Workers at bank feel fortunate
Published 10:56 am Thursday, April 9, 2009
By By Kerry Whipple Bean and Lisa Tindell
Jodi Chancery had just stepped to the next teller window to speak to her colleague.
Receptionist Susan Reeves was in the back of the building.
And despite a busy morning with customers, the lobby of First Exchange Bank was empty by 11:15 a.m., when a log truck crossing the tracks at U.S. 31 and Deer Street was clipped by a CSX train and overturned, catapulting logs into the windows.
No one was injured in the wreck, which disrupted business at the bank for the day.
With the lobby littered with broken glass and furniture, shaken employees comforted each other and tried not to think about what could have happened. No one was even parked outside the building at the time of the accident.
One log landed right where customers would have been standing had the bank been as busy as it was earlier that morning, bank employees said.
Chancery, whose window is closest to the front of the bank, said she had little warning about the accident.
Truck driver Lorenza Burnett was cited for failing to maintain obedience to signaled approach of a train, Brewton Police Lt. Eric Suarez said.
Suarez said witnesses said Burnett appeared to be trying to beat the train across the tracks. The truck — a 2001 Peterbuilt — was headed north, while the train was headed south. Burnett made a right turn in front of the southbound train, Suarez said.
The train had moderate damage and had to be taken to Mobile for repairs, Suarez said.
Burnett was driving for Johnson Brothers Logging of Brantley. Suarez said the company would likely incur expenses related to cleanup, property damage and bank security.
David Adams, director of the Escambia County Emergency Management Agency, said no hazardous materials were involved in the Monday incident.
Adams said he could have predicted the outcome of the incident before it even happened.
Adams said the incident at the intersection of U.S. 31 and Deer Street could have turned out far worse that what was experienced.
Bystanders filled the sidewalk in the aftermath of the accident, many shooting photos with their cell phones and marveling that the accident did not injure anyone.