An Austell man killed on railroad tracks in the Cobb County city Monday was 53-year-old Gerald Hannon, police have confirmed.
Hannon was in his motorized wheelchair on the railroad tracks when he was struck by a northbound freight train at the Powder Springs Road crossing near Veterans Memorial Highway at about 11:25 a.m. on Nov. 11, Austell Police Chief Bob Starrett said.
Hannon’s little white dog was with him but ran away and is now the subject of a community search, Starrett said.
“We haven’t found the dog yet. There were some rumors about the dog being hit as well, but witnesses said they saw the dog was on a leash with Hannon and then ran off. So right now the community is trying to find the dog to take care of it.”
Hannon was not supposed to be crossing the railroad tracks when he did, Starrett said.
At the time, the railroad crossing barriers were down and the oncoming train was sounding its whistle, he said.
“He should not have been crossing at that time but being on the motorized wheelchair he went around the crossing guards.”
Starrett said the investigators’ report into the fatal collision should be completed Thursday.
No one has been charged in relation to the incident.
Rebekah Green, a server at the South Cobb Diner which is near the crossing, told the MDJ on Monday that Hannon was a fixture in the community, often seen out and about with his dog.
“He’s come in a couple times, but normally I just see him riding around,” Green said. “Normally he has his dog with him, either running behind him or sitting on his lap. He’s gotten hung up on the tracks a couple times. He normally makes it over.”
In Georgia, there were 149 reported cases of trains striking pedestrians or vehicles on railroad tracks last year, of which 28 were fatal and another 60 involved injury, according to the Federal Railroad Administration.