A Johnson City woman’s small stature likely saved her life when she was hit head-on by a 75-car Norfolk Southern train early Tuesday morning.
“They said the only thing that saved her is she’s so small and she went up under it,” John Cable said about his 22-year-old daughter, Stormi Cable.
According to a Johnson City Police report, the woman was walking on the tracks toward the train when it hit her near the Elm Street grade crossing directly under the Interstate 26 westbound overpass.
John Cable said he believes his daughter, the mother of four children, was walking to her uncle’s home near the water heater plant when she was hit.
Cable is frustrated because he feels he’s been given several differing versions of what happened.
“(The train’s engineer) drug her the whole length of the (city) garage,” Cable said.
But the JCPD report filed by patrolman Brad Flynn contradicts that, stating that Stormi was not dragged.
Nonetheless, she has severe injuries that include both arms and legs broken, a head injury and she may lose a foot, her father said.
The woman also has 12 broken vertebrae, he said.
Cable said he is also frustrated because he’s heard nothing from investigators in the case.
“Nobody has come to talk to me about nothing. I called the investigator and he didn’t call me back and I called the chief and he didn’t call me back,” Cable said.
According to Flynn’s report, the 75 train cars were being pulled by four locomotives.
The train conductor and engineer told Flynn they saw a woman on the tracks walking toward the train and blew the air-horn approximately three-tenths of a mile before the train hit her.
“The victim made no attempt to get out of the right-of-way of the train,” Flynn wrote.
He stated in the report the train was traveling 20 to 30 mph at the point of impact.
“The victim was found underneath a hopper car,” which was the third car behind the last locomotive.
“The victim was still breathing upon emergency personnel arrival (and) was expedited to the JCM for treatment,” Flynn wrote.
JCPD Investigator Joe Harrah was continuing an investigation, as was Norfolk Southern.
“Norfolk Southern will work with local law enforcement to provide any information that they need in their investigation of the incident,” said Susan Terpay, company spokeswoman, in a prepared statement. She also said Norfolk Southern works with Tennessee Operation Lifesaver to help educate the public about railroad safety.