On Monday, January 20, Billy Clark Davis, 87, died after his vehicle was hit by a train.
Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) troopers say the crash was reported around 1:15 AM at West Beresford Road and Alexander Drive, just west of Deland. Davis was driving a pickup truck and turned to try to cross the tracks. Unfortunately, his vehicle became stuck and the front of it was struck by a freight train, then dragged about 500 feet before the train could stop. Sadly, Davis was pronounced dead at the scene. Two people on board the train were unhurt.
Troopers confirm this particular crossing doesn’t have a stop arm to prevent drivers from crossing when a train is near. There is some signage about the railroad crossing.
Florida ranks number 6 among states with the highest number of deaths at railroad crossings. Between 2014 and 2018, the state saw more than 460 railway accidents, and about 16 percent resulted in fatalities. Another 25 percent caused injuries. The majority of fatal train crashes happened in South Florida, and were more common among the fast-moving Brightline trains.
Slower-moving freight trains like the one that hit Clark’s car are generally less likely to be involved in fatal accidents. However, accidents are more likely to occur at crossings without stop arms. The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) has found that in some cases, fatal train accidents are caused by poor railroad maintenance, including malfunction or absence of cautionary devices like lights and stop arms to warn drivers of coming trains.