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Vehicle removed from railroad tracks in Decatur


DECATUR (WKZO) -- An Amtrak worker may have helped to prevent what could have been a larger accident on a railway just west of Decatur.

An Amtrak maintenance worker just happened to be doing work in the area west of 46th Street in Van Buren County just after 6 a.m. Tuesday when an abandoned Ford Escape was found on railroad tracks.  The vehicle was found to belong to 69-year-old James Barkman of Decatur, and his wife told Van Buren County Sheriff's deputies that he hadn't been seen since the night before, and may have been confused and on a number of medications for various health issues.

Barkman was found a short distance from the vehicle, and he told authorities that he had swerved to miss a deer, heading down a maintenance road in a corn field before eventually coming across the railroad that he then attempted to drive over when the vehicle became stuck.  Then he became confused and fell asleep in heavy weeds at the edge of a nearby swamp.

Railroad operations had to be suspended for two hours while the vehicle had to be lifted over the tracks by a tow truck.  No one was hurt, but the vehicle did sustain some damage.