Turning Grief Into Determination - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

04/01/04

Turning Grief Into Determination

John St. Amant took the same route to work at Gulf Coast Produce on March 22nd that he took everyday, crossing the Hopkins Boulevard tracks. It was 5:15 am. Witnesses say as John tried to stop, his truck slid into an approaching train.

St. Amant's widow, Barbara, says, "I had actually heard about a train wreck that morning on the news and before I seen or heard anything of who it was or whatever my mother-in-law and father-in-law knocked on the door and they're the ones they told me about it."

The crossing has no lights or bells. Barbara says she and friends are e-mailing pleas to CSX Railroad in Jacksonville, asking the company to make the crossing safer.

"We're hoping to get some type of emergency signals up there with crossings and lights and things, just to save one life and keep anyone else from going through this again. Anyone else from suffering the way we suffered. This has been the most awful loss of my life, I'm going to tell you."

The accident happened on the north side of the tracks. After the train hit St. Amant's truck, it caught on fire. The only fire station on the north side is station three on the back bay. The emergency personnel who responded came from the Central fire station on Porter Avenue, a few blocks away.

Louanna St. Amant, John's Mother, says, "It just needs to be more medical personnel on the north side of the track. My son was killed on impact from that train. But had my son been alive, I honestly believe Station 3 here on back bay could have got to him quicker before that fire started and got him out of there before Central did because they had to work over the train or under the train to get their hoses and stuff down and to get personnel over. They had to climb the train in order to get to him."

byMarcia Hill

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