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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Truck v. train -- no contest

Thursday, October 12, 2006

TRAIN WINS: A Toyota truck lies upside down adjacent to railroad tracks near Williford where it was struck by an oncoming train Oct. 7. Photo/Wulff
A Paragould man and his stepson are counting their blessings after they safely escaped from their vehicle before a train plowed into it Oct. 7 near Williford.

Donnie Mendenhall Jr., 20, and his stepson Michael Lindsey, 6, were driving along the right of way of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad tracks near the Spring River bridge in Williford when Mendenhall attempted to cross the tracks to get to the river for an afternoon fishing trip, Mendenhall said. The transmission of the 2000 Toyota Tundra failed and the truck stalled, he said.

"It got hung up when I put it in four-wheel drive," Mendenhall said.

Mendenhall worked on the truck for about 10 minutes before he heard the train coming. When he heard the massive machine he removed Lindsey, who lives in Williford, from the truck.

"I kept working on the truck but finally left it when I saw the train coming," he said. "I grabbed my son and ran as fast as I could away from the truck."

The BNSF train, with 124 cars of coal, struck the truck and propelled it into a rock wall before it came to rest on its top on the right of way between the tracks and the wall.

The engineer contacted the authorities.

"I'm just glad we're OK," Mendenhall said. "Losing the truck isn't a big thing. At least my son is OK."

Crossing the tracks where there is no crossing is nothing new for Mendenhall.

"We wanted to go on the other side of the tracks to fish," he said. "I'd done it two or three times before and never had any problems."

Arkansas State Trooper Jeremy Page cited Mendenhall with criminal trespass, a misdemeanor.

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