Trucker who parked in train's path admits to causing catastrophe

Freight train split tractor trailer in half at railroad crossing in Topton

READING, Pa. - A tractor trailer driver from Florida has admitted to his role in an accident involving a freight train in Berks County.

Alton Russell pleaded guilty Monday to causing a catastrophe. He was sentenced to three to 23 months in the Berks County Jail, including 68 days he's already served.

Russell parked his truck on the tracks near the intersection of North Home and Center avenues on the evening of May 28 and went inside a diner to ask for directions, police said.

An approaching Norfolk Southern train couldn't stop in time and slammed into the truck, splitting the empty trailer in half.

No one was injured.

The accident caused about $30,000 damage to the train and the crossing's warning lights, but Russell, of Daytona, was not ordered by the judge to pay restitution.

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