Authorities say an intoxicated, naked Boston man is lucky to be alive after being struck by a train last Wednesday morning in Southern Whitley County.
“It was very odd,” said Whitley County Sheriff Colan Harrell, who has been in law enforcement for over 45 years.
According to information police gathered at the scene, a man was walking along the railroad tracks and failed to move far enough away to prevent being hit by the train.
According to his arrest citation, about 6:57 a.m. on July 6, Stephen Charles Lawson, 51, of Rose Lane, failed to move off the railroad tracks about nine miles south of Williamsburg, and the “cow guard” on the front of the northbound CSX train hit him on the right buttocks.
“He was ‘butt naked’ except for his socks. He had his socks on,” Harrell noted.
The impact knocked Lawson down a nearly 60-foot embankment.
When emergency responders arrived, Lawson was standing at the bottom of the tracks and he was hallucinating, Sgt. Todd Shelley wrote on the arrest citation.
Lawson later allegedly told police that he had “done some ice,” the citation stated.
Ice is an extremely potent and pure form of methamphetamine.
Whitley County EMS treated Lawson at the scene and transported him to Jellico Community Hospital. Lawson’s injuries aren’t believed to be life threatening.
Harrell said that authorities don’t know why Lawson was near the train tracks or why he was naked other than “because he wanted to be I guess.”
Harrell said there is a probability that Lawson’s intoxication level contributed to him not noticing the approaching train.
Authorities don’t know exactly how close Lawson was to the train tracks when he was struck.
“Mr. Lawson is very lucky that he wasn’t closer, or he could have received some substantial injuries,” Harrell added. “Maybe a step inward and he would have been damaged even greater.”
The collision occurred between Sandy Flats and the Saxton community, which is a short distance from Lawson’s home.
Shelley cited Lawson for public intoxication and third-degree criminal trespassing in connection with the incident. Lawson is scheduled to be arraigned on Aug. 15 at 1 p.m. in Whitley District Court.
Harrell said that the engineer of the CSX train was not cited for any offenses and authorities didn’t find any wrongdoing on the part of the train crew nor the railroad.
Shelley, Sgt. Dave Lennon and Deputy John Hill are investigating the case. They were assisted at the scene by Disaster and Emergency Services Director Danny Moses, Williamsburg Fire and Rescue, South Whitley Volunteer Fire Department and Whitley County EMS.