Church members grieving the loss of pastor killed in train crash

- The pastor of a church in Gastonia has passed away after a train collided with the garbage truck he was driving, according to Ranlo Police in Gaston County.

The accident happened around 1:15 p.m. near Lowell on Monday.

Deputies confirmed Pastor Thomas Collins Jr., died. He was the pastor at New Canaan Missionary Baptist Church, for almost 6 years.

Deacon Kimberlle June with New Canaan said, "I saw a true man of God that lead and guided and directed us by the aid of the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ, and he pushed us to be all that we could be and do all that we could do."

There is no stoparm at the crossing where the accident happened. On Tuesday, NC DOT told Fox 46 Charlotte they plan to meet with the property owner, Waste Management, to discuss safety outreach and possible safety upgrades to the crossing.

Our FOX 46 Charlotte crew on scene learned the truck was a Waste Management truck. Officials say they were concerned about a possible explosion.

Officials tell FOX 46 Charlotte that the track where the accident happened was on private property for Waste Management where there were no crossing arms.

A neighbor says the sound of the train crashing into the garbage truck "shook the whole house." 

Fox 46 Charlotte reached out to Piedmont & Northern Railway, the company that owns the train involved in the crash. A spokesperson says they are not commenting until the accident investigation is complete.

Statement from Waste Management:

Early yesterday afternoon Waste Management experienced a tragic accident in the 2700 block of Lowell Road in Gaston County. Thomas Collins, Jr., husband, father, grandfather and pastor, died from injuries sustained in an accident when his vehicle collided with a train.

We are profoundly sad for the family of Mr. Collins. This is a heartbreaking incident and our deepest sympathies go out to everyone affected.

We are working with local authorities and would also like to extend our deepest gratitude to the first responders who attended and assisted at the scene.

We appreciate your patience as we continue to investigate this incident.

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