Neighbors say train crossing where Mechanicsville man died does not have proper warning signals

Published: Jun. 24, 2021 at 8:53 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 25, 2021 at 7:03 PM EDT
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NEW KENT COUNTY, Va. (WWBT) - A Mechanicsville man who was killed by a train while picking up his kids from vacation bible camp has been identified. Neighbors say the crossing where he died doesn’t have the proper warning signals needed to prevent tragedies like this.

The train versus truck crash happened on Outpost Road at least 100 feet from Route 649 (Rockahock Road) around 5:47 p.m. on June 24.

Police say Kevin A. Pence, 45, was driving his Chevrolet Suburban south on Outpost Road and was parked partially across the train tracks, controlled by a stop sign, when it was struck by a passenger train headed west.

Pence was not wearing a seatbelt and was ejected from the vehicle; he was transported to a hospital where he later died from his injuries.

A child was in the suburban and was secured in a child seat. The child was taken to a hospital for injuries that are not life-threatening.

Residents who live in the area just beyond the crossing say it’s private and has no barrier arms or flashing lights to warn drivers when a train is coming. There are two stop signs on either side of the crossing, but one woman says it’s not enough to keep some drivers from speeding through without stopping.

“I yell at them, you need to stop, look and listen because you don’t realize until that train is right here, that it’s too fast,” said Lala.

Lala says she was at the scene of the accident hours after happened Thursday night.

“My heart goes out to the family and the friends of the victim, it’s sad,” Lala said. “That very second could take your life away.”

According to the state’s traffic records electronic data system, there have been at least 220 accidents involving trains and cars across the state since 2011. In that time, 10 of those incidents have been fatal.

So far in 2021, there have been at least eight reported collisions across the state between trains and cars, two of those incidents were fatal and occurred at the New Kent train crossing at Rockahock road and Outpost road.

Dave Carns, who lives in the Rockahock community just beyond the crossing, says that’s a major problem.

“It’s hard to understand why when we’ve got over 400 long-term people back here why we are not protected. Why don’t we have arms?” Carns asked. “Even if you only put one crossing at Rockahock for example that crossing would be seen by the other two places that cross over the rack so what’s a life worth?”

He says the private crossing is owned by the railroad company CSX and that it’s up to them if extra safety features will be installed in the accident-prone area. He says the residents who live nearby have been advocating the county and CSX for years to do something about the problem.

State police say the train did not derail, and the passengers on the train did not have injuries.

“How much does it really cost to force CSX to put a crossing there and CSX how many times are we going to do this?” Carns asked. “They have records of how many times there have been accidents on that track.”

NBC12 reached out to the New Kent County Administrators and CSX for comment on if there are any plans to make a change, but at this time they have not responded.

Virginia State Police, CSX Police, Amtrak Police, New Kent Fire and Rescue and NKSO all responded to the crash.

The investigation is ongoing.

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