After fatal strike on Ky. bridge parents of victim say more safety measures need to be installed, file suit

Written by Bill Wilson, Editor-in-Chief
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Norfolk Southern says it will send a team out to check a rail bridge in Cleveland.
David C. Lester

The goat man is supposedly an urban legend in Louisville. Apparently, he can be summoned when people step on or cross the Pope Lick trestle. The goat man is related to the Pope Lick Monster. Whatever the case, the feeling around the rail bridge is certainly eerie, as several people have been killed following train strikes over the years.

On May 26, 2019, Savanna Bright, a 15-year-old, was on the bridge with her friend, Kaylee Keeling, when a Norfolk Southern train approached the trestle. Bright was struck by the train and killed, while Keeling suffered serious injuries but survived.

The parents of Savanna Bright recently filed a lawsuit naming Norfolk Southern Railway. According to the lawsuit, Norfolk Southern should have known that the unsecured, unsafe, unfenced, open and easily accessible Pope Lick trestle was attractive to pedestrians. The train operator also has been named in the suit for traveling at greater than rail speed maximums for the track or trestle class and failed to slow, brake, slacken speed or stop the train to avoid the collision.

At the center of the charges are safety measures near the maintenance-of-way. The suit claims Norfolk Southern failed to install fencing, barriers, warning lights, reflective material and other items that could prevent such accidents. According to the suit, Norfolk Southern left dangerous access points open to the trestle and failed to warn people about trespassing.

At the entrance of a park at Pope Lick Road and Taylorsville Road, which leads to the 742-ft-long trestle, there is a chain-link fenced armed with barbed wire and No Trespassing signs. After the incident last May, Jeffersontown Fire Chief Sean Dreisbach said it was not possible to prevent people from trespassing on the Pope Lick trestle. Some go to the Taylorsville English Station and walk the 19 minutes to the rail bridge.

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