GASTONIA, N.C. (WBTV) – A Gaston County pastor is dead after a waste management truck collided with a train near Lowell Monday afternoon.
It happened in the 2700 block of Lowell Road, Gaston County, 911 said. The Gaston County Emergency Management Director confirmed that one person in the truck was killed.
A family friend identified the man killed as Pastor Thomas Collins of New Canaan Baptist Church. Collins also drove for waste management.
The truck appeared to have caught fire after the collision. There are no railroad crossing arms where the collision occurred.
Reverend Andrew Rollinson, pastor of New Bethesda Tabernacle Church in Charlotte, was comforting Collins’ family Monday night.
“I’ve cried. I’m still crying. You can feel the family’s pain. It is hard not to feel their pain if you’re really just right there. This is a close-knit family and they have touched many lives,” Rollinson explained.
He said Collins was a loving husband and father who will be missed.
“It’s just so sad that this had happened to him,” said Rollinson.
There are several homes directly across the street from the railroad track where the crash happened. Several neighbors told WBTV they heard and felt an explosion.
“I was in the house washing my hair, and I heard a loud boom. We ran down there, it exploded right in front of us. You could see the guy’s legs and that’s about it,” said Alyssa Payne.
Because of how close homes are to the track, Payne said she feels very lucky she was not hurt from the explosion.