A Five Points couple was injured late Tuesday afternoon in a one-vehicle freak accident on Old LaFayette Highway in Roanoke that landed their vehicle on the railroad tracks that cross under the road. The driver of the vehicle, Russell Thomas Emrick, 75, later died while being treated for injuries.
According to the report from Roanoke Police Department, the couple was traveling south on Old LaFayette Highway in their 2014 Lincoln Navigator and approaching the bridge that crosses over the CSX Railroad tracks. The SUV ran off the right side of the road and onto the soft shoulder approximately 160 feet before the bridge.
As it continued traveling south off the road, the vehicle went in between the guardrail and the utility pole, before taking the approximately 60-foot plummet down the embankment that led to the railroad track below. The Lincoln went airborne and began to roll to the right. The SUV struck the outer concrete guardrails on the bridge before falling to the tracks below.
Debris from the vehicle was discovered lodged in the guardrails 25 feet from where the embankment begins. The SUV struck the ground nose first and rotated 180 degrees before coming to rest, upright across the track, and facing north.
Patrol units arrived first and began trying to locate the vehicle. When Sgt. Watkins spotted the SUV on the tracks, dispatch called to stop all train traffic.
Both occupants were visible in the vehicle, but were trapped. Officers climbed down the embankment to assist the victims. Fire units arrived on the scene with paramedics. Fire units had to lower the jaws of life tools from the bridge by rope. Ambulances gained access to the track by means of an old rail spur a few hundred yards east of the accident scene.
The passenger, Patricia A. Emrick, 76, of Five Points, was transported to WellStar West Georgia Medical Center in LaGrange, and the driver, Russell Thomas Emrick, was taken to Tanner East Alabama Medical Center. He passed away Wednesday.
The couple's dog was killed in the accident.
A heavy lift wrecker with a rotating boom from East Alabama Towing was called to the scene to lift the vehicle back up to road level.