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CSX train collision kills musician, mechanic

A Crystal Springs man was hit near the Pasco-Hillsborough county line, authorities say.

Published May 14, 2004

CRYSTAL SPRINGS - A man was killed after his car collided with a CSX train Thursday at the Hillsborough-Pasco County line.

Authorities did not release the name of the driver, but friends and relatives identified him as Charles Michael "Sonny" Chapman, 52, of Crystal Springs.

Few details of the accident were available, but Rodney Brown, terminal manager for CSX, said the six-locomotive train was going from Tampa to Jacksonville about 5:30 p.m. when a car turned left from Paul Buchman Highway onto County Line Road and did not stop at the tracks.

Brown said witnesses told him that the lights at the crossing were flashing. He did not know how fast the train was traveling when it hit the front of the car. The crossing does not have a safety arm.

Hillsborough County sheriff's Deputy Larry Parketon said the car was southbound on Buchman Highway and turned in front of the train's engine. The collision knocked the red car into some trees near the tracks where it overturned.

Authorities were waiting for the medical examiner to arrive and went to retrieve the equivalent of the "black box" from the train.

Friends and relatives of Chapman who arrived at the scene said he was a longtime musician who played guitar in a group called the Canyon River Band. The band played country and rock every weekend at the River Ranch Resort.

By day, Chapman was a part-time mechanic at a Zephyrhills lawn mower shop and lived in Crystal Springs with his girlfriend.

Chapman's aunt and uncle, Dallas and Glenda Chapman, said he was a talented musician.

"All I can say is he was a good boy," Dallas Chapman said. "And he sang pretty good, too."

This is the second train wreck in the area this year.

In March, a Tampa man was killed when a CSX train slammed into his truck while he was trying to cross the tracks.

Esteban Palma, 33, of 1205 Yukon St. was stopped on the tracks facing east on a dirt access road to CF Industries on Paul Buchman Highway when a southbound train slammed into his semitrailer truck, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

Train operators had attempted an emergency stop but could not do so in time before striking the truck's front driver's side, the FHP said.

- Researcher Cathy Wos contributed to this report, which includes information from Times files.

[Last modified May 14, 2004, 01:01:19]

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