WARTRACE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A Bedford County man died Monday after first responders were delayed reaching him due to a train that was stopped on the tracks.
The Shelbyville Times-Gazette reported that family members had been performing CPR on Baldevbhai "Bobby" Patel when they called 911 around 7:30 p.m. The ambulance reached the tracks, but could not pass due to a train blocking the crossing at Highway 64 in Wartrace.
Brett Young, the assistant director of Bedford County EMS, said they had two other responders taking different routes in an effort to get to the home.
However, he said one was blocked by a different train on Fairfield Pike. Young said the other responder was able to reach the home less than two minutes before the ambulance arrived on scene.
Young said Patel passed away Monday evening.
For resident David Latimer the story is all too familiar. “So I went into the bedroom and told Yvonne ‘I think I’m having a heart attack’ and the minute I said that I heard the train whistleblowing,” he said.
After suffering a heart attack, Latimer was forced to find an alternate route when a train blocked his path to the hospital in Shelbyville in 2019.
“Heart attacks are different degrees. You could have a more severe heart attack that I could have had and being that that road was blocked on the way to the hospital it could have caused me to die,” he said.
Wartrace native April Carter said a solution is long overdue. “It’s become a matter of life or death for a lot of people and at that point, I just feel like we should fix something because people are dying because of a train,” she said. “I feel like it’s kind of something that’s been swept under the rug and not addressed because it is such a small town and it is such a historic part of Wartrace.”
According to the town manager, Wartrace and the county received a grant from CSX to install a camera outside its town hall to alert first responders when a train is blocking the track.
We’ve reached out to local officials to see if that camera was monitored at the time of the incident, but have not heard back.
Still, residents say something needs to be done.
“There’s got to be a better way because one death is one too many,” said Latimer.
A CSX spokesperson released the following statement on the incident:
“We strive to be a good neighbor and limit the impact of our operations on local communities. We are committed to improving public safety and maintaining an open line of communication with local officials. Our heartfelt sympathies are with the Patel family.”