A Gainesville man escaped serious injury when his pickup collided almost head-on with an Amtrak passenger train Thursday night near Oakwood.
None of the 197 rail passengers were injured, said Hall County Fire Marshall Scott Cagle.
Tyler Pinson was treated at the scene for a wrist injury and minor leg scrapes and refused transport after he said his brakes failed as he approached the unguarded crossing from Old Oakwood Road. The 1998 Chevrolet C-1500 slid sideways on the gravel road and stopped across the tracks as the train sped toward him, Pinson said.
“My brakes went out and I finally got traction up here on the concrete,” Pinson said as his mother and two friends stood nearby after driving to the wreck scene. “I was trying to flip it up into reverse — by then it was too late. ... I just braced for the impact. It was practically head-on.”
Cagle said multiple rescue vehicles scrambled when the 911 call first came in.
“We received a call at 8:57 this evening,” Cagle said. “It was a report of an Amtrak train loaded with passengers against a private passenger vehicle. Because of what type of train it was ... we initially started three med units, put a helicopter on standby and started two fire trucks.
“We were really lucky tonight,” Cagle said. “This could have been a really, really bad situation.”
Pinson told his mother he couldn’t remove her key from the truck’s key ring.
"Don’t worry about it, son,” she said, and hugged him beside the tracks.