Harrison County

Gulfport man killed by train after driving around crossing gate, officials say

A Gulfport man is dead after a train hit his pickup truck Thursday morning, Gulfport police say.

Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove identified the victim as 81-year-old Thomas Baker, who died from blunt force trauma. Baker is a former Sun Herald employee.

The crash happened at the Texas Avenue railroad crossing just before 8 a.m. Thursday, police said.

Texas Avenue is one block west of Courthouse Road, and the crossings were closed on Courthouse and Tegarden roads. They reopened just about 2:15 p.m., police said.

Police said it appears a Dodge Truck was northbound on Texas and drove around the crossing gate, which was down with lights flashing and bells ringing.

The pickup was hit on the passenger side and pushed about 50 yards. Baker was rushed to a local hospital.

Other fatalities there

A teddy bear and small memorial still sits at the crossing from when a woman was killed by a train in her car the night of June 10, 2015.

Police Chief Leonard Papania told reporters at the scene there have been fatalities at that crossing going back to 1987, including one he knew personally.

"We've got to be patient at these intersections," he said. "If you try and beat them it can be catastrophic."

There have been 27 fatalities on CSX tracks in Harrison County since 2009, according to the Federal Railroad Administration's public database. There were 5 in Jackson County and none in Hancock County during those years.

The most recent high-profile crash happened last year in Biloxi when a charter bus full of tourists got stuck on the tracks and was hit by a train.

Sun Herald reporter Patrick Ochs contributed to this report.

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