Elderly lady hurt in train accident
By 11/09/2006 00:00:00
FERRIS - Dorothy Kirven, 82, is recovering at Parkland Hospital after a Union Pacific train collided with her brown Lincoln Town Car Thursday, Nov. 2 at about 10 a.m.
Sidney Hamm was heading southbound on Central Avenue between Fifth and Sixth Streets when he witnessed the accident.
'She was stopped and the (train gate) arm was down on her car windshield,' he said.
'It looked like to me like she didn't know which way to go.'
Hamm said as the train was headed northbound it appeared Kirven had decided to try to get her car across the tracks by driving under the gate before the train arrived.
Kirven's car was pushed southbound into the grassy area just feet from the Ferris' City Hall after the impact.
Other witnesses said resident Carol Wright helped Kirven regain consciousness by talking to her.
Union Pacific representatives estimated the 40 ton train was traveling at 40 miles per hour when it struck the front right panel of Kirven's vehicle.
Train operators had already placed the train into emergency brake mode a quarter of a mile back when they saw the vehicle edging toward the tracks, according to Tom Perry, manager of railroad operations for Union Pacific.
Trains usually pass through Ferris traveling 60 miles per hour, but Perry estimated the train's speed at 40 miles per hour when the accident occurred.
Train operators were expected to receive counseling to assist them to cope with the wreck, but would not be put on administrative leave, Perry said.
'All the gates, bells, warning devices are working properly,' he said.
After Kirven was extracted from her vehicle she was driven by ambulance to the fire station located on Farm to Market 664 to be loaded onto an air ambulance for transport to Parkland Hospital.
'I think she'll be okay,' Ferris Fire Chief Eddie Duran said.
'She's got some injuries that are pretty serious.'
On Monday night Ferris Police Chief R. C. Nettles said Kirven had an operation to insert pins in her leg because it was so severely injured.
Kirven had just left Cash and Mail Emporium after cashing two checks, according to co-owner Teresa Schiffer.
She said she didn't realize anything was wrong until she saw two men running toward the railroad tracks just yards from her front door.
Many around the downtown square area said they didn't think anything about the train's loud noise because it was always loud when it comes through town.
'We didn't know anything was wrong until we heard the sirens,' Ferris City Secretary Pat Bradley said.
When asked about a possible diversion of traffic from or over the tracks, Ferris Mayor Jim Parks said since FM 664 was a state-owned road the city could not build a bridge over the tracks because they do have jurisdiction to make any repairs or improvements to the road.
He said the city could petition the state for a bridge, but wasn't optimistic.
'I don't know, but they probably wouldn't build a bridge,' Parks said.