Collegedale, TN – On December 20, 2022, Collegedale Police, Tri-Community Fire Department, Hamilton County EMS, Hamilton County Emergency Management, Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office, Tennessee Highway Patrol, and the Chattanooga Fire Department responded to a train derailment at the railroad crossing located in the 10000 block of Apison Pike.
The investigation revealed that a tractor trailer was delivering a 137-foot concrete bridge span across the railroad crossing at the time of the collision.
The driver, identified as Jorge Luis Cruz-Vega, proceeded across the railroad crossing behind his first escort car without first assuring his tractor trailer could completely clear the tracks. He also did not make contact or arrangements with Norfolk Southern Railroad about his delivery route.
Cruz-Vega stopped halfway across the tracks after his turn, bringing his tractor trailer into the on-coming lane of traffic instead of his own travel lane.
While stopped in the on-coming lane of traffic, Cruz-Vega’s tractor trailer and the concrete bridge span was struck by a Norfolk Southern locomotive, causing the train to derail.
The derailment caused 3 engines and 10 rail cars to leave the tracks causing substantial damage to the rail system and other infrastructures.
The train’s engineer and conductor were transported to the hospital with injuries.
Jorge Luis Cruz-Vega has been charged with failure to yield, a registration violation, and felony reckless endangerment. He is currently out on a $10,000 bond and his court date has been set for April 12. 2023.