Family of fatal train crash victim speaks out, saying death could’ve been avoided

Local News

NEW KENT COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The family of a woman killed in a train crash on Thursday night is speaking out to warn drivers about the section of railroad she was crossing.

The daughters of Freeda Pruitt, who died in the train crash late Thursday night, said her death could’ve been avoided.

Pruitt, 56, lived in the Lanexa community in New Kent County. She was traveling home from work at around 11:30 p.m. on Thursday night when her car and a freight train collided at the railroad crossing at the intersection of Outpost and Allen Roads.

The railroad crossing has stop signs and private railroad crossing signs meant to warn drivers. Now members of Pruitt’s family are saying that those signs are not enough to protect people crossing the tracks.

Two of Pruitt’s four daughters, China Thompson and Jennifer Jones, said their mother would still be alive today if the railroad crossing had lights and arms.

“I really don’t think it would’ve even been a thing today if it was something there to stop her,” said Thompson.

Thompson and Jones describe their mother as a generally happy, smiling and serving person. “Everyone that met her loved her,” said Jones.

“She really liked to be someone to help somebody else,” said Thompson.

They said she loved to listen to Prince and dance. Her family fondly remembers the beach trips she would plan for everyone.

Around town, Jones said everyone would call her mother, “Grammy.” Pruitt worked at Lakeside restaurant in Lanexa for nearly six years. The owner’s husband, Ronald Wingfield, tells 8News that one funny quality about her was that she was clumsy. Wingfield says whenever something fell at the restaurant, everyone knew it was Pruitt’s doing.

“Losing somebody is tough. She was very loved and interacted with the customers well,” he said.

The restaurant closed on Friday to honor Pruitt’s life. “I don’t think anybody could come in here and perform today and properly without her,” he said. 

The family is raising money on Go Fund Me to pay for Pruitt’s funeral arrangements.

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