Probe Continues Into Arkansas Train-Ambulance Crash

LITTLE ROCK (AP) -- Authorities worked Monday to piece together what led up to an accident in Fulton in which a freight train struck an ambulance at a crossing, killing three paramedics.

The woman the ambulance crew was taking to a hospital, Charlene Gayton, 66, survived the crash and was in serious but stable condition, a hospital spokesman said Monday.

The ambulance, which was stopped on the train tracks at about 1:30 p.m. Saturday on County Road 189 in Fulton, was struck by a northbound Union Pacific train, and the impact ejected the three ambulance crew members. Jeffrey Scott Ferrand, 37, and John Rook, 23, both of Hope, and Christopher Clingan, 23, of Texarkana, Texas, were killed. Ferrand was the driver.

Officials said Gayton was strapped to a gurney and remained inside the ambulance.

Funerals are to be held for Ferrand and Rock in Hope Tuesday, while a memorial service will be conducted Wednesday for Clingan in Texarkana.

The paramedics worked for Pafford Medical Services of Hope. Company president Jamie Pafford-Gresham said there would be an additional service Saturday in Hope.

``It's a horrible loss of lives that we can't replace,'' Pafford-Gresham said. ``Our crew members are grieving. They're like brothers and sisters. This has taken a toll on everyone.''

Pafford-Gresham said that the Arkansas Ambulance Association has provided assistance and that her company will continue to perform at full capacity.

``At this time, we are fully staffed,'' she said. ``We have new ambulances that have come in and (are) working the shifts. But these lives won't be replaced.''

Gayton was brought by family members to the Christus St. Michael in Texarkana, Tex. after the accident.

Mark Davis, spokesman for Union Pacific, said Monday an investigation into the accident was nearing its end. The train was on its way from Angleton, Texas, to North Little Rock and had a video camera mounted on board. Davis said the tape would be given to state police investigating the accident.

Davis said he was unaware of the findings of the railroad's investigation, but said counseling services are being provided to the train crew.

``Any incident like this is very traumatic to the crew,'' he said.

State police Cpl. Darren Neal had said investigators may never know why the ambulance stopped. Neal is leading the inquiry into the accident.

People who knew the victims were still looking for solace Monday.

``They did what they loved they to do,'' Pafford-Gresham said. 'It was comforting that they were happy with what they did. It's tough. That's all I can say.''