Local News

April 18, 2014

‘Lucky to be here’

Driver OK, but truck torn apart by train

When Marcel Harrigan closed his eyes, the tractor-trailer he was driving was in one piece. When he opened them, he said he “couldn’t believe” what he saw.

The truck was cut into three pieces by a northbound train.

Harrigan was driving an 18-wheeler down Willowdale Road on Friday around 5 p.m. When he neared the corner of Willowdale and Chattanooga Avenue, he said the truck’s undercarriage got stuck.

Harrigan said he abandoned the truck when he heard a train coming, waved his hands to the conductor futilely and hid behind some bushes when he knew he couldn’t stop the collision.

Officials with the Dalton Fire Department said no one was hurt and the train received minimal damage. It simply cut through the tractor-trailer and continued on, officials said, pushing the debris into a nearby gully.

Mattresses and other bedding material— Harrigan’s cargo — were scattered around the scene and were being recovered by Dalton Public Works officials.

“I did not want to see that,” Harrigan said. “I closed my eyes, man. When I saw it coming, I closed my eyes. I just got stuck. I got stuck up here on the hill. I have to say, I’ve never seen anything like it. No. No, man. Never.”

Harrigan said he was “lucky to be here.”

“Even my wife called me a hundred times asking ‘Are you sure you’re OK?’ And I kept telling her, ‘Yeah, I’m OK,’” he said. “I sent her a picture of the truck and she still kept calling, asking, ‘Are you sure you’re OK, Marcel?’ I am OK. I’m lucky to be OK.”

Willowdale Road was closed at Crow Valley Road until 6:15 p.m. as officials cleared the area of debris.

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