(Ames, Iowa – February 11, 2018)
A Mason City, IA man was fighting for his life in a Des Moines, IA hospital after he was struck and seriously injured by a Union Pacific train at an Ames, IA crossing at about 8:00 P.M., CST Saturday evening.
Family members said that Joe Zavala, 54, went to Ames to visit his son. While in Ames, Joe was struck by a Union Pacific freight train as he tried to cross double Union Pacific tracks at one of the state’s most statistically dangerous, though signalized, road/rail intersections, South Duff Avenue.
The victim, who suffered life-threatening injuries, was first taken to Mary Greeley Medical Center in Ames. He was subsequently airlifted to a Des Moines trauma center where his condition could be better addressed.
Statistics generated from the Federal Railroad Administration’s crossing accident website show that, even though the intersection of double UPRR tracks and South Duff is equipped with lights and gates, its crash record is astounding. A daily average of 68 Union Pacific trains cross the angular South Duff crossing ,at maximum allowable speeds of 40 mph, and Saturday’s accident was not only the 22nd to occur there, but was the seventh to involve a pedestrian. All six previous train/pedestrian collisions had resulted in death for the victims.
Meanwhile, of the 14 cases involving motor vehicles, three had resulted in death and four had caused non-fatal injuries to motorists or their vehicular passengers.