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By Echo Menges
Gorin, MO – Thursday, January 26, 2023 – The tiny town of Gorin, population 62, was overrun by emergency crews after a BNSF freight train collided with a tractor-trailer in the middle of the rural community. Emergency responders were dispatched to the crash site at approximately 10:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, January 25.
Gorin is located in southern Scotland County approximately four miles north of the Knox County line, and ten miles southeast of Memphis as the crow flies.
The tractor-trailer driver, Ehsanullah Folad, 24, of Sunrise, Florida, told Scotland County Sheriff Bryan Whitney, the low-to-the-ground trailer hauling a load of steel road culvert tubes was high-centered at the railroad track crossing, and Folad was unable to move the tractor-trailer forward or backward.
“He heard the train coming, and he ran for safety to the north side of the tracks. The train hit the cab and it drove the tractor and trailer, together, down the tracks approximately 120 yards. The train was traveling at 40-miles-per-hour prior to the collision. The conductor saw the tractor-trailer on the tracks, and put on their full breaks. The train was slowed down to a speed of only 26-miles-per-hour at the point of impact,” said Scotland County Sheriff Bryan Whitney. “The freight train’s designated purpose is to haul grain. It was empty at the time of the crash.”
The train was eastbound heading for Galesburg, IL. The tractor-trailer was southbound.
Upon impact, the railroad crossing arm on the south side of the tracks was damaged as the tractor-trailer was pushed down the tracks. The load of steel tubes were strewn across the roadway on the north side of the tracks, as the south-facing tractor was hit at the center of the passenger side.
Gorin volunteer firefighters were the first to arrive at the scene, followed by the Sheriff and Rutledge volunteer firefighters.
Dozens of emergency personnel from the Gorin Volunteer Fire Department, Rutledge VFD, SCSO, BNSF, Missouri State Highway Patrol, the Scotland County Ambulance District, and Lakeside Towing & Recovery based in Memphis responded to the call.
“The Gorin VFD confirmed there was one minor injury, the truck driver sustained an injury to his finger. He had blood on his finger, which could have happened as he fled from the train. He refused medical treatment,” said Sheriff Whitney.
A Gorin resident who lives near the crash site said the sound of the collision was “loud”.
Members of the community went to see what the commotion was about immediately after the crash, however, they were careful to keep their distance.
“There was quite a crowd,” said Sheriff Whitney. “They did good, and stayed off the railroad property, and out of the way of emergency personnel.”
The community also sprang into action to assist dozens of emergency workers in a meaningful way.
“The community brought down food, water, and hot chocolate for all of us. They set that up in the Gorin City Hall building. Everyone who wanted some was welcomed.”
The crew from Lakeside Towing & Recovery problem solved to carefully remove the tractor-trailer from the tracks. The front driver’s side tire dug into the track ballast, which are the rocks used under the tracks and around the railroad ties. And the passenger side of the tractor-trailer was dented in by the front of the train making it infeasible to pull the tractor-trailer backwards, away from the train and back over the tracks from the ground level.
After the trailer was removed from the north side of the train, heavy equipment was used to hoist the tractor up and back to the north side of the tracks.
As soon as the tractor was lifted away, about two hours after the collision, the BNSF response team began assessing the damage to the train.
“They repaired the train and moved it at approximately 4:30 p.m.,” said Sheriff Whitney. “At that time, the rails were deemed safe by BNSF technicians, and the roadway and tracks were cleared for all train and vehicle traffic at the Gorin crossing.”
The BNSF team also made temporary repairs to the crossing arm on the south side of the tracks, which made it operational.
“I’d like to commend the community of Gorin for being so considerate, staying out of the way, and bringing supplies to emergency personnel,” said Sheriff Whitney.