MORELAND, Ga. - Family and colleagues of a Georgia Department of Transportation employee are grieving after his truck was hit by a train Monday morning.
The accident happened shortly after 9 a.m. at the intersection of Bethlehem Church Road and Railroad Street in Moreland, Georgia when the CSX train bound for Atlanta struck the GDOT truck on the tracks.
Officials said 60-year-old Carey Byron Ellerbee from Thomaston, Georgia was behind the wheel of the truck and died at the scene when it collided with the train. The train dragged the truck for several hundred yards.
"I heard the booms; it sound like bombs going off," Vicki Gann said.
The sound of wind chimes on Vicki and Richard Gann's porch was overpowered by the raging sound of a train crashing into a vehicle. They live so close to the tracks that the impact shook their home.
"I thought the train was going to come through the house," Vicki said. "Really, I was expecting that, that's how much it scared me."
Coweta Fire Chief Pat Wilson said nine units responded to the scene including a hazmat crew after oil from the train began to leak.
Wilson said Ellerbee was following other drivers to the GDOT parking lot on the other side of the tracks when he was hit.
"My heart goes out to the DOT family," Ellerbee said. "I know they've been really working hard the last couple of days with the weather and to have tragic end like this, this morning, is definitely heartbreaking "
Vicki prayed with Ellerbbee's wife as the family surveyed the scene.
"I wanted to pray with her because I knew that it was going to be a hard thing for her to face," she said. "And I did and the faith was enormous and how she said he was a Christian and she knew exactly where he was."
The couple also offered their warm home and hugs to Ellerbee's colleagues who had been working by his side through the most recent storm.
"These guys they've been out working two days straight trying to keep our roads clear and something like this happens, it's just shocking," Richard said.
Georgia State Patrol Troopers, who investigated the collision, said the crossing was not protected by a gate - only a yield sign.
A CSX spokesperson said the company extends its deepest sympathies to Ellerbee's family and GDOT. CSX personnel are working on site with state troopers as they investigate the crash.None of the four crew members on the 55 loaded-car train were hurt.
Coweta County had been put on a curfew Wednesday and Thursday night because of the snow and ice. Since the storm began, Coweta County Emergency has had to assist with 146 motorist reports and 186 accidents, both with and without injuries involved.
"The DOT worker had been out all night clearing roads," Jay Jones, 911 director with Coweta County Emergency Management said.
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