Funeral set for SURVIVOR star killed in train derailment

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Collinsville, Alabama native and former SURVIVOR cast member Caleb Bankston was killed in a train related accident in Birmingham on Tuesday, according to the Jefferson County Coroner’s Office. It happened between 11:00 a.m. And 12:30 p.m. on Tuesday near the 3500 block of 35th Avenue North in Birmingham in an industrial plant, according to the Coroner’s Office.

Bankston was working at the time. He was a conductor for the Alabama Warrior Railway, according to company representative Dan Smith.

Smith said Bankston had made a big impression on his fellow teammates since starting the job in October of 2013.

“Caleb was a big part of who we were and who we are and the guys are, are working through it. We’ve made counseling available to all of those that are on the team that need it. We’ve certainly made available all the necessary time for them to work through this,” said Smith. “Caleb was a tremendous individual that had many strong relationships, beloved by our team, and unfortunately suffered a fatal injury yesterday. Our thoughts and prayers have been with Caleb, Caleb’s family and our team. Our focus is on Caleb’s family and our team.”

The Alabama Warrior Railway has never had a fatal accident until now according to Smith.

“This is our first one,” said Smith. “Our team is getting through this minute by minute with support from one another. And I’m proud of the way they’ve handled this under the circumstances. They’re strong people and as I said earlier they’re focused on Caleb’s family and Caleb’s spirit and we’ve just tried to make everything available to them to help them get through this. And that’s where we’re focused.”

The railroad did a safety stand down Wednesday morning, but is now operating with employees from other areas, according to Smith.

Federal Railroad Administration workers were on site investigating the accident Wednesday morning.

“We are in the middle of a thorough investigation to understand exactly what happened. As required by law we will produce a full report and submit it to the FRA, Federal Railroad Administration does have the lead on the investigation and we are cooperating fully,” said Smith.

According to Deputy Jefferson County Coroner Bill Gates, Caleb Bankston was not crushed, but thrown from one train car up against another car on a nearby track. Gates said Bankston was pronounced dead at the scene inside the Walker Coke Plant.

“The rails might belong to Alabama Warrior Railway, but the plant is the Walter Coke Plant. That’s where the incident occurred,” said Gates.

“There are two parallel tracks. He’s on a train that’s backing up. There’s cars on the parallel track next to it and they are stationary. His side derails on one side and then he’s thrown against the stationary cars,” said Gates.

The Jefferson County Coroner’s Office is not ready to release a cause of death at this point, but Gates said it does appear to be an accident.

A pastor family pastor for Bankston’s parents spoke to WIAT 42 News after the accident.

He said that Caleb’s father was planning to travel to the job site to clean out his son’s locker Wednesday morning.

Funeral arrangements for Caleb Bankston have been scheduled for Thursday afternoon, June 26th, 2014  at the Crossville Memorial Chapel located at 13812 Alabama 68, Crossville, AL 35962.

The funeral home tells WIAT 42 news that the family will receive friends during the memorial ceremony which runs from 11:30 am to 3:00 p.m.

A private funeral ceremony for the family will begin at 3:00 p.m. at the same location.

Caleb Bankston participated in SURVIVOR: BLOOD VS. WATER – Season 27 which aired in the Fall of 2013 according to a Publicist for CBS Entertainment.

SURVIVOR Host and Executive Producer, Jeff Probst, issued the following statement about his passing:

“The entire Survivor crew is together in Nicaragua. We are shocked and deeply saddened by the loss of Caleb. He was one of the most humble and likable contestants we’ve ever had the pleasure of working with on the show. A true gentleman. He will be missed by so many. We extend our most sincere condolences to his family and to his fiancé, Colton.”

Jeff Probst,
Host and Executive Producer of Survivor,
Source: CBS Entertainment, Publicist Mallory Mason

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