By Rachel Dove
BIG SPLINT - A young man was airlifted from the Miller’s Creek exit off U.S. Highway 119 after being struck by a northbound Norfolk Southern locomotive at Big Splint, near the Nolan.
Keith Kinzer, 22, and his girlfriend, Mary Burchett, both of Big Splint, reportedly were walking along the railroad tracks near their home when, for reasons that are still unclear, he was struck by the train in an area that includes a blind curve. It has not been established whether Kinzer was actually on the track or walking closely alongside of it when he was struck, and there also was speculation among the first responders on the scene that the victim may have lost his footing and fell into the locomotive’s path.
According to reports provided at the scene of the accident, Kinzer suffered a severe head injury to the base of his skull as well as his neck, a chest injury, which is thought to include broken ribs, possible trauma to his left lung, and multiple contusions and swelling in the area of his left hip.
Kinzer was treated at the scene by first responders with the Chattaroy Volunteer Fire Department and medics with STAT Ambulance. He was taken by ambulance just a short distance on U.S. 119 to Miller’s Creek, where a landing zone was set up for the AirMed Care helicopter that flew the patient to Cabell-Huntington Hospital, where he will receive specialized treatment for the injuries he suffered.
Railroad officials responded quickly to the scene, but are not releasing any information concerning the cause of the accident until all the facts are gathered and the train crew that was involved is interviewed, as well as any witnesses that were present when it occurred. Railroad police agent M. McCloud also responded to the scene and is assisting with the investigation.