(Reynolds, Indiana – October 28, 2014)
The perpetuation of the combination of a dangerous, unguarded railroad crossing and a fast Amtrak passenger train and highway vehicles again resulted in an accident Tuesday morning at about 8:20 A.M., EDT. The Chicago-bound “Hoosier State” train with 56 passengers and a crew of three on board struck a loaded dry cement truck at the dangerous and unguarded CSX railroad crossing of White County Road 200 North two miles north of Reynolds, IN, injuring 14.
Truck driver Jeffrey Hatfield, 55, of Bedford, IN, miraculously escaped injury but had his trailer burst from the force of the collision, spreading the dry concrete across a wide area and coating the Amtrak locomotive with a gray dust. Hatfield told White County Sheriff’s Dept. Chief Deputy A.J. Alletto that he looked to the south and saw the train, but thought he had time to clear the crossing. Unfortunately, he miscalculated.
But the crossing itself was an open invitation to disaster, even though the main line of the old Monon Railroad handles only a few trains daily, including the north and southbound Amtrak service, at a maximum speed of 60 mph. The crossing is not equipped with any active warning devices, such as lights and gates. It is virtually certain that if equipped with lights and gates this accident would not have happened. CSX, Amtrak and Operation Lifesaver know lights and gates are the most effective type of protection at railroad crossings. Studies that have been conducted over fifty years ago confirm that lights and gates offer the ability to drastically reduce the number of vehicle/train accidents by as much as 96%.
Indiana State Highway 42 parallels the CSX tracks, and the vehicular storage space between the highway and the railroad from the direction the 18-wheeler approached will barely hold an automobile, let alone a semi-trailer truck. Heavy tree foliage eliminates sight distance in the opposite direction.
Reportedly, the truck was the trailing part of a two-truck convoy headed for a White County construction site.
Six of the injured were treated at the scene, while the other eight were transported to Indiana University White Memorial Hospital in Monticello, IN, where all were treated for various injuries and released.