The driver of the tractor-trailer that was struck by a freight train at Alewine Avenue and Highway 100 in Tallapoosa last week plans to fight the charge against her.
“Everything happened so fast and I was very shaken up,” said Felisha Foster. “This whole situation seemed odd to me because no one spoke to me about the situation. No city official or ambulance asked me if I needed medical help. A railroad personnel asked me for a statement but other than that no one said anything.”
Foster said she isn’t the first driver to be stuck on the railroad tracks at that crossing. She was charged with failure to obey traffic control device. Her truck was carrying 44,000 pounds of sugar at the time of the collision on Oct. 26.
“I was not coming up 100, I was on Alabama Street and I stopped at the stop sign where East Alabama Street and Georgia 100 meet,” said Foster. “There was no signs at that stop sign that said no left turn for trucks. It was just the stop sign and the signs saying where the shops are.”
Foster said she then turned left and then saw the signs that said “no trucks.” But she said they were facing the Georgia 100 road.
“I could not move because there were cars behind me and then my vehicle was stuck and I did not know why,” said Foster. “I was the one who made the 911 call. I got out of my truck to see why it was stuck, and it was my landing gear. I got back into the truck to try and move forward or even backwards but it was stuck. I had on my earpiece talking to 911 and I was telling them how I was stuck.”
Foster said that if it were not for the operator she would not be able to tell her story.
“I don’t know the woman’s name who I was talking to but she saved my life,” Foster said. “She told me to get out of the vehicle and stay away from the tracks. I didn’t know a train was coming but at that time I jumped down I heard the horn from the train. All I saw was light coming from the train but I took off running for my life. I looked back I saw everything. I remember closing my eyes and telling God thank you for sparing my life. All I could think about was my three kids.”
After the train hit the truck, the cleanup process took about 12 hours. In the past the city has seen trains hit trucks filled with paint, smoke alarms and one filled with water. Officers say that if the train is headed west, it is moving at a rate that gives it no chance to stop.
“If you make the turn like she claims she did, there are obvious signs, some over the track that say no trucks, the other is painted on the pavement that also says no trucks,” said Tallapoosa Police Chief Scott Worthy. “We have had others [truck drivers hit by trains this year] that fight it in court. It is pretty obvious (signs) and Department of Transportation has placed those signs, but everyone has a right to a trial.”
Worthy said she will come in for an arrangement. If she pleads not guilty the judge will schedule a trial.
“Villa Rica has this same problem where truck drivers are crossing the intersection of a railway that they are not allowed to cross,” said Worthy. “Villa Rica has a raised bar so if a truck were to pass, they would catch that bar however they attempt it. If the railway were to decide to close this intersection, that would create a large headache. That intersection (100 and Alewine Avenue) does not allow left turns for a reason, to make a better flow of traffic.”