Skip to Main Content
Railroad News

Beloved Houston Educator Killed at Union Pacific Crossing Lacking Pedestrian Gate

By Pottroff & Karlin LLC |

(Houston, Texas €“ December 13, 2016)

A 69-year-old special education teacher, returning home from classes at Houston, TX Kashmere High School was struck and killed by an Amtrak passenger train at the Union Pacific/Lockwood grade crossing Tuesday at about 1:00 P.M., CST. The incident took place near the northeast Houston intersection of Bennington Street and Lockwood Drive and adjacent to the school.

Johnnie Harris, 69, who had worked for the Houston Independent School District since 1991, the last 10 years at Kashmere HS, was struck by one of 16 Union Pacific, Amtrak, Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Kansas City Southern trains that pass there on an average day at a maximum allowable speed of 35 mph.

The four-lane Lockwood Drive has lights and gates for the single UPRR track that crosses diagonally, but, as noted by both Andrew Kragie and Karen Warren of The Houston Chronicle, The safety gates that come down to block vehicles from entering the rail crossing appear not to block the sidewalks at the intersection€¦€. Mrs. Harris had been either walking back and forth to her job or catching rides with co-workers as her own vehicle was undergoing repairs.

The tragedy terrified Kashmere 11th Grader Jeremiah Johnson, who witnessed the accident. He said he and others called out a warning to the victim to stop walking across the sidewalk that crosses the tracks, and saw her body flip€ as the train struck her.

The crossing is also across from Felix Cook Elementary School, and parents are critical of the need for either a pedestrian bridge over the tracks or crossing guards,€ as The area has heavy foot traffic,€ they told Houston KTRK-TV, Channel 13.  Especially to have two schools and kids going to lunch, back and forth,€ said parent Bobbie Hayes. It€™s crazy. It€™s not safe!€

Reactions from the tragedy demonstrated the effect Ms. Harris had on her family, friends, and entire community.   Ms. Harris was a treasured member of the Kashmere family,€ said KHS Principal Nancy Blackwell, adding that Our thoughts and prayers go out to Ms. Harris€™ family. She will be deeply missed.€ I don€™t know what to say,€ remarked Frank Harris, her husband of fifty years. I€™m at a loss for words.€   She loved her grandchildren,€ remarked neighbor Doris Cooks. She loved her children and she loved her husband,€ Cooks added.

KHS Junior student  Johnson summed the loss of the beloved and respected teacher as a giving person,€ saying If you needed anything, she made sure to give it to you.€



Railroad News


Train crash cases are unique and complex with many different potential pitfalls, such as federal preemption. Anytime I get hired or even get a call from a train crash victim, my very first call is to Nathan’s firm. Nathan’s knowledge and experience in handling and trying cases against these litigation savvy railroad companies gives me the confidence to know that the clients and cases I refer to him are getting the best of the best.

James Perrin Lubbock, Texas

I have had the opportunity to work as co-counsel with Nathan on several railroad crossing accidents cases. In each case, Nathan always possessed an incredible knowledge of the law and the facts, possessed a great talent for aggressive - strategic legal planning and trial tactics while, at the same time, displaying great skill as an effective negotiator. I would recommend him to anyone without hesitation.

Scott McCluen Harriman, Tennessee

Nathan Karlin has my strongest endorsement in the field of railroad crossing cases and personal injury law. I had the pleasure of working with Nathan in a complex railroad personal injury case. I was impressed by Nathan’s knowledge, his work ethic, and his dedication to the client. I look forward to working with Nathan on future injury matters. I am also aware firsthand that he has obtained excellent trial and settlement results in numerous cases involving members of the public harmed by railroad companies.

Joseph M. Miller Mandeville, Louisiana

Nathan is a warrior fighting the railroads. As a fellow personal injury lawyer, I have constantly been impressed with his depth of knowledge and his capabilities from case to case. I’d take him into battle with me any day against the biggest railroads and insurance companies on the planet.

Jon C. Clark Austin, Texas

Bob Pottroff has fought for the victims of the railroads’ callous disregard for safety more than any other attorney that I know. I should know because I am currently Chair-elect of the Railroad Section of ATLA.

Robert Schuetze Boulder, Colorado

Mr. Pottroff has shaken the rail industry to its very roots. Settlements are now more common as a result of the way he has exposed the industry’s wrongdoing.

Mike Easley Arkansas

Bob Pottroff’s work in railroad safety law is unmatched and he has been the source of great advice and phenomenal creativity.

Roger Brown Jefferson City, Missouri

In addition to his substantive contributions to railroad grade crossing safety, I have personally observed his untiring efforts and contributions to improving the integrity of the legal system.

Elizabeth Hardy Lake Charles, Louisiana

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8