Tony Eshaak, owner of Roma’s Pizza, saw the accident from his business and said the train hit the mid-section of the log truck’s trailer.
The impact pushed the truck about 150 yards down the track before the train and mangled truck came to rest behind the Lighthouse, Wightman United Methodist Church’s teen hangout.
The impact sprayed logs across the area with logs flying yards away to land in the old Piggly Wiggly parking lot and at the Prosperity Rescue Squad’s blue building.
Eshaak said he watched in horror as the driver was thrown through the truck’s windshield.
The driver, 33-year-old Ephesian Tanks of North Augusta, was airlifted for medical care at Palmetto Richland from the Fairview Fire Station. Town councilman Allen Gallman said the driver was talking and did not appear to have suffered life-threatening injuries after the accident. Others on the scene said the driver was bruised up and may have had a broken arm.
Diesel fuel leaked from the train engine’s 2,500-gallon tank, and the fuel tank of the logging truck. The county’s hazardous materials team, fire and law enforcement were on the scene dealing with the spill.
As the train was pushed down the tracks it knocked down the train signals and an AT&T pole.
Also, a flying log hit an overhead power line. The impact caused the power line to short and blow a Duke Power transformer. A Duke Power crew from Charlotte had to be called in to help repair the transformer. Power was out in the town most of the afternoon. Mayor Larry Spotts expected that power to the town would restored by 4 p.m.
“It’s a bad day for business,” said Eshaak, who like other restaurants and shops in town had to close due to the outage.
The wreckage completely blocked Pine and Main streets until around 3 p.m. and Highway 391 was opened back up last night.
The S.C. Highway Patrol and Transport Police are still investigating the collision.
Spotts said about a year ago, CSX Railroad set posts to install crossing arms at the crossing, but “never finished the job.”
“In the last year-and-a-half we have had several wrecks there and a train derailment on the same line,” said Spotts.
Tanks has been charged with disregarding a railroad signal.