A ribbon cutting ceremony was held Saturday at the railroad crossing on Monticello Road in south Hazlehurst. The ceremony remembered the late Alisha Michelle Vincent who collided with a train July 23, 2005, and died from her injuries three days later.
The Monticello Road crossing was named “Alisha’s Crossing” as a memorial to Alisha as well as the dozen others who have been killed at the same crossing over the years.
After Alisha’s death, Monica Richardson contacted MDOT, Alderman Shirley Sandifer, State Representative Greg Holloway, and other officials to upgrade the railroad crossing as well as make it a memorial and place of encouragement for all commuters and pedestrians to slow down before crossing the track.
Family members and friends all wore t-shirts with Alisha’s picture and the slogan, “Stay off the Track, Just Stay Back.”
The ribbon cutting ceremony included presentations by Mayor Henry Banks, Aldermen Darryl McMillian and Frank Jones, and Supervisor Terry Channell to Alisha’s parents, Michael Fatheree and Eleanor and Jerry Norrells. Special presentations were given to Rep. Holloway and Alderman Sandifer.
The sign was unveiled by Alisha’s grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Eddie Vincent, Mrs. Pearl Fatheree, and Mrs. Delois Smith.
Pink and white balloons were released in memory of Alisha and others who have been killed or affected in some way by train collision.
“The family of Alisha Michelle Vincent would like to thank everyone for their support,” said Richardson. “But let’s not stop there! Let us continue to press for the gate, so that we can prevent the loss of other lives.”
MDOT officials say a crossing gate installation would cost between $150,000 and $200,000. A few months ago the crossing was upgraded with lights and signage, but the community continues to push for gates to block traffic when trains approach.
Mary Kitchens was killed and her husband Robert was severely injured on May 9 at the same crossing. There was another fatal collision with a train at the intersection last year, and many others over the years.
The crossing is a short distance from Highway 51 and two of Hazlehurst’s biggest industries. Monticello Road is a main artery into a densely populated residential area as well.