They've spent years trying to turn a tragic loss into something that saves lives, and now a family's efforts are paying off.
In 2006 Jeffery Campbell died when a train crashed into his truck at a railroad crossing near his home in Knox County. Since then his family has pushed for what they consider to be a much-needed crossing gate there. They hope others will join them in making Kentucky safer one crossing at a time.
They were cousins, but Kara Ball says Jeffery Campbell felt more like a brother to her. On September 29, 2006 Campbell was driving home from work when he approached a familiar intersection. "He was coming across the railroad tracks," Ball recalled, "He'd done it every day of his life. It was literally... really close to his house."
A train crashed into the driver side of Campbell's truck killing him. Over the last few years Ball says she's had moments when her grief made it difficult to even talk about her cousin, but eventually she decided to lead efforts to make crossings like the one on School Street safer. When she got the call a few weeks ago that legislators had agreed to add $175,000 to the state highway construction plan to install railroad crossing gates where Campbell was killed, grief turned to joy. "I just burst into tears," Ball said, "I was so excited."
Ball hopes this crossing will be the first of many to add safety features, and she encourages anyone who experiences the loss of a loved one to look for ways to help others to comfort themselves. "If he was sitting here right now," Ball said of her cousin, "he would look at me and say, I am so proud of you. I am so proud of you, and so it's not easy waking up every day and knowing that he's not here, but if you are able to turn something bad into something good, it makes it a lot easier."
Family members tell us construction on the crossing gates could begin as early as July, and they plan to celebrate the groundbreaking as a memorial to Jeffery Campbell.