Vienna man dies after he was hit by a train

Published 2:12 pm Monday, April 25, 2022

By Neil B. McGahee

Managing Editor

A 21-year-old Vienna man was killed Sunday evening when he was struck by a Norfolk Southern freight train.

The Vienna Police Department received a call around 8:30pm that a person had been struck by a train in the area of East Pine and North 7th Streets. Upon arrival, officers found Stantavious Rashard Burnam, 21, deceased at the scene.
A preliminary investigation determined that Burnam was struck somewhere along the Norfolk Southern tracks between Union and Pine Streets. It is still undetermined as to why Burnam was around this area of the tracks.

According to those who knew him, Burnam, a 2020 graduate of Dooly County High School, was a very quiet but happy person.

“He was a joy to be around,” said Crisp County Athletic Director Jimmy Hughes, the former head football coach at Dooly County High School. “He always had a smile on his face. He was just a good, good fellow.”

Dooly High Principal Jerry Sanders said he was devastated when he got the call Sunday night.

“Stantavious was a great student,” Sanders said. “I never had any trouble with him. He was very quiet, very humble and always smiling; that’s what I remember most about him. I tried to convince him to go in the military after he graduated from high school but he said he wanted to work. I just can’t figure out why he was on that railroad track.”

This is an ongoing investigation, so if anyone has information related to this incident they should contact the Vienna Police Department or the Georgia State Patrol.

The Vienna Police Department would like to thank the Dooly County Sheriff’s Office, the Vienna Fire Department, the Georgia State Patrol, the Dooly County Corners Office, the Dooly County EMS, the Crisp County Sheriff’s Office and the Norfolk Southern Railroad Police for their quick response and assistance in working this situation.


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Beal-Shephard tries to weather the storm over City HallBy Neil B. McGahee Managing Editor Cordele City Commissioner Vesta Beal-Shephard was elected in 2001 to represent the people of Ward One. By all accounts, she has done a very good job of relating to the citizens living in her ward. Recently, however, a dark cloud has settled over City Hall. From the first day of his term, newly-elected commission chairman Joshua Antwan Deriso began taking verbal snipes on social media at some of the other commissioners. Shephard says she just ignored it at first but on April 9, Deriso posted on Facebook “…It was much anticipated for Comm. Rainey to be against change. Comission (sp) Shephard fights against me the hardest…does not know much about government at all…She needs to be voted out next year 2023.” A few days later, he posted live saying …“I am totally over the games, the political stuff…a lot of people want to make what I said about Commissioner Shephard something about disagreement with Commissioner Shephard. It was her ignorance and short-sightedness…not able to understand what we can do as a government. “When there were people in charge that didn’t look like us…white people… she didn’t question anything. Since I became chairman, she has blocked everything…you don’t know what you are doing; you don’t know what you are talking about.” Shephard winces as she listens to Deriso. “I don’t do drama and I don’t do pettiness,” she said. “I refute everything he has said about me. I’m not angry with Josh; I am somewhat disturbed that he has targeted me, a citizen of Cordele; a black female…he accused me of loving white folks. Well I do love white folks, and brown folks and black folks — Haitian, Jamaican, Indian, Cuban, Mexican — I have no discrimination to anyone. My job is to facilitate for people in this ward and when I vote, I vote my conviction.” Shephard said she doesn’t know why Deriso has such hard feelings against her. “It’s so sad, I have to say that I never saw it coming,” she said. ”But I have to voice my opinion.” But one sad thing has evolved from this. “This is the first time I have been discriminated against by a fellow commissioner,” she said. “I used to invite people to my home if they had a problem. But I had to stop that. If you want to meet with me, we will have to go to a public area or to my office at city hall. I am going to keep my distance for the simple reason that I don’t want to endanger myself.