(Moody, Alabama – October 7, 2015)
An Alabama mother of four who was among several motorists waved through a crossing with lowered gates that had been activated for some time by a stopped freight train was killed at about 4:10 P.M., EDT Wednesday afternoon at the crossing of Trail’s End Lane and Norfolk Southern railroad tracks in the St. Clair, AL County community of Moody. The mother died tragically as she going to pick up some of her four children waiting on a stopped school bus on the opposite side of the NS crossing by Amtrak’s New York-bound “City of New Orleans” train with 58 passengers and crew members on board.
The driver of the ill-fated 1999 Ford F-150 pickup truck was crossing north across the double tracked when she was struck on the driver’s side of her vehicle by the train that was hidden from her view by the standing freight train. According to Federal Railroad Administration-kept statistical data, a daily average of 28 NS freight and Amtrak passenger trains cross at a top allowable speed of 79 mph, and where three earlier, non-injury collisions had occurred. She was initially identified only as a local Hispanic woman in her 30’s and mother of four, but was later identified as Andelde Guadalupe Dasques-Lugo, 30, 0f Leeds, AL.
Witnesses like Jennifer Brown, who saw the tragic crash first-hand, told news media like WIAT-TV’s Michael Oder that “The truck was crossing; there was another train on the other side of the tracks. He (possibly a train crew member) has already waved a couple of cars through, and she (the victim) tried to cross, and when she did, I don’t know if she didn’t hear the Amtrak train or didn’t see it or what, and she didn’t make it all the way across and it hit her.”
A view of the wrecked vehicle, after it had been loaded upon a flatbed wrecker, carried the stark statement by WIAT Channel 42 News that “The driver’s side of this truck is gone; just gone.”
Melissa Evans, a neighbor of the victim, told a reporter for the Moody-St. Clair News-Aegis that “the woman’s view of the second track could have been hindered by the stopped train.” Evans added that “the woman’s children were on the bus, which had been stopped at the crossing for an unknown amount of time,” and that ‘the guardrails were lowered because a freight train was using one of the tracks had stopped about 20 feet from the crossing.”
The newspaper’s staff member confirmed Evans’ statement through use of a photo taken by another neighbor shortly before the collision.