CATEGORY: CAC Car Accidents
HED:Councilman stable after train collision
By Michaela Gibson Morris
Tupelo firefighters pried an injured city councilman from his car Wednesday evening after his vehicle collided with a train.
Councilman Perry Thomas, who was the only person in the car, was listed in stable condition Wednesday night at North Mississippi Medical Center.
He was being treated for multiple fractures after his Chevrolet Lumina collided with a train just west of the Joyner Avenue-West Jackson Street intersection about 5:40 p.m.
A Thomas family spokesman said the 51-year-old councilman was in surgery Wednesday night and that the doctors expect a good outcome.
Firefighters at the scene said Thomas' legs, which had been pinned by the dashboard, seemed to be the most serious injuries.
Thomas was coherent when pulled from his car, but he couldn't remember the accident, Fire Chief Mike Burns said.
"That's not unusual," Burns said.
Tupelo police are trying to determine how the accident occurred, but it appears Thomas was heading toward his West Jackson Street home, about eight blocks west of the railroad crossing, Deputy Police Chief Bill Gibson said.
The Burlington Northern-Santa Fe engine collided with the front right (passenger) side of the car, apparently spinning it back across the other lane of traffic and onto the side of the road.
"He is exceptionally lucky," Gibson said.
When firefighters arrived on the scene, Thomas was lying mostly on the passenger side of the car, and his legs were pinned under the dashboard, Burns said. It took firefighters about five minutes to pry him out of the car using the Jaws of Life, an extrication tool.
Thomas did not appear to have been wearing a seat belt. Gibson said it's unclear if a seat belt would have prevented any injuries in the collision with the train.
The railroad crossing, which intersects Jackson Street at an angle, has flashing lights and bells but no crossing guard.