Macon man killed in train accident

KATHLEEN — A 31-year-old Macon man died after a train collided with a small pickup Thursday morning near Kathleen in Houston County.

Adonis Hill, of Bobby Jones Boulevard in Macon, died at 8:15 a.m. at The Medical Center of Central Georgia, Bibb County Coroner Leon Jones said.

Hill worked for Southland Waste Systems, Jones said. Hill was apparently on his way to work and turned into the company’s private railroad crossing at 108 Ga. 247 Spur when he drove his pickup in front of the train shortly before 7 a.m.

The crossing, which is in front of Southland Waste Systems, is just south of where the Ga. 247 Spur breaks off from Ga. 247.

Houston County Fire Chief Jimmy Williams said the victim was the only person in the truck, which was pushed about 30 yards. The accident did not cause the train to derail.

Hill immediately was rushed by ambulance to Macon after he was extricated from the vehicle by Houston County firefighters. He died shortly after reaching the hospital.

Hill was traveling south on the spur when he turned right to cross the railroad tracks in front of Southland Waste Systems as the train was headed north, said Capt. Robert West of the Houston County Sheriff’s Office. The locomotive hit on the driver’s side, West said.

Susan Terpay, a Norfolk Southern spokeswoman, said the freight train sounded its horns and bells as it neared the private crossing. The train consisted of two locomotives and 26 rail cars, she said.

The train was traveling about 60 miles per hour, she said. It takes a freight train about a mile to come to a stop after it deploys its emergency brakes.

The private crossing is marked by crossing signs on each side of the tracks that include a stop sign as well as signage to look in both directions.

“I couldn’t believe it even happened,” said Judy Tucker, a retired travel agent whose home is off the Ga. 247 Spur across from Southland Waste Systems. “I slept through it.”

Tucker, who sleeps with the TV on, said she heard about the crash on the news after she woke up about 8:30 a.m.

Lillian Bennett, who lives down the road on the Ga. 247 Spur, said she was watching her husband, Frank, from the living room window as he was headed to work in his pickup truck about 8:50 a.m. She noticed he didn’t pull out of the driveway right away.

She said she learned later her husband had seen a blue police light near Ga. 247 Spur and Ga. 247. He didn’t think too much about it at the time and went another way to his job in Perry, she said.

“We’re just so used to the trains,” Bennett said.

Harold Meadows, a retired welder who also lives along the Ga. 247 Spur, said he didn’t hear the crash, but he did hear the sirens of responding emergency vehicles.

Hill was a relatively new employee at Southland Waste Systems, said manager Kevin Ellis.

“We do offer our condolences to the family,” Ellis said. “We are very sad that it happened.”

The crash remains under investigation, West said.

To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303. To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.