Train accident ends with one man dead

By: Paige Quiggins Email
By: Paige Quiggins Email

One woman witnessed the unthinkable and tried to save an elderly man whose vehicle was hit by a train.

Tonya Liford said she saw everything at around noon on Jan. 31. She also said she wanted the family of Delmer Bright to know that he was not alone in the final moments of his life.

“The arms actually started coming down as he was crossing the tracks,” said Liford, recalling the moments before the accident.

Liford said that she watched as 83-year-old Delmer Bright was going across the train tracks on Cumberland Avenue in his Chevy Blazer when she said he was hit by an empty CSX train engine.

“His car spun around and landed pretty much about a car length and a half away from me,” said Liford.

The concerned woman said her instinct was to help the man.

“All the doors were crushed in so I couldn't get in that way but I did crawl in through the back,” said Liford.

Liford said once she made it inside the vehicle, it was too late.

“He was unresponsive, I just kept talking to him and see if I could get a reaction from him until E.M.S. arrived,” said Liford.

She said she is not sure why it happened.

“It was just a really sad situation you know and you know you could tell he wasn't trying to beat the train or outrun the train he was just driving along and got stuck in between there,” said Liford.

She said the accident puts in perspective how precious life is.

“When you actually see it in real life and see the action and how quickly it takes place,” said Liford.
“I don't know I guess people take life for granted because that could have very well been me.”

Liford said that she wanted his family to know that he did not die in pain.

“My prayers are with the family, I want them to know that I was there with him, and he did not suffer,” said Liford.

A few people said that Bright retired from working with the railroad. Officials from the Barbourville Police Department said that the investigation is ongoing and they are not releasing many details.

“Of course anytime you deal with something this much devastation and impact, it's a harrowing experience,” said Det. Steve Owens.

Owens said that this should be a reminder to all of the public to be extremely cautious when traveling near railroad crossings.


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