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Train, grader collide, killing driver
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Most of the Long County motor grader remains stuck to the front of a CSX train after they collided Monday evening. - photo by Photo by Lewis Levine

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A Long County employee was killed Monday when the motor grader he was driving was struck by a train at the Simmons Cross Roads in Long County.
According to Ludowici/Long County Fire Chief Darrell Ballance, Roy Baxter, 46, drove up to the railroad track at Simmons Cross Roads and appeared to hesitate at the tracks. At this point the engineer of an oncoming CSX freight train began blowing the train’s horn. But, according to the engineer, Baxter appeared to turn back to look behind him at a vehicle to his rear as if he thought it was blowing the horn.
Ballance said the driver of the automobile agreed with the engineer's comments.  
Balance said the train engineer said Baxter did not appear to ever look in the direction of the train before proceeding across the tracks.
The engineer reportedly tried unsuccessfully to stop the train, but it hit the motor grader at the cab, throwing Baxter from the cab and tearing the heavy-duty equipment into two. The rear portion of the grader was knocked to the left of the track, and the other piece was stuck to the front of the train where it was dragged until the train came to a stop.  
The CSX freight train was traveling about 68 mph. The train was headed from Jacksonville to Savannah.
According to Ballance, Baxter was killed on impact.
According to Georgia State Patrol Trooper Joe Mock, Baxter lived in Glenville.
Long County Commissioner Mike McGowan said Baxter had been an operator with the Long County Road Department for about 15 years.  
"He was a real good employee,” McGowan said. “He always did a good job and was just a wonderful, nice person.  This is just a terrible thing.”

Freelance writer Lewis Levine contributed information for this story.


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