(Elsberry, Missouri – July 1, 2011)
Leaving a Mississippi River area marina Friday evening about 8:00 P.M., a family of four from O’Fallon, MO in a 2005 Chrysler Town and Country minivan were seriously injured when hit by a Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight train. The train that struck the vehicle was hidden from view by another stopped BNSF train at an unguarded, dangerous private crossing in Elsberry, MO, just north of the greater St. Louis, MO area.
The family had been stopped at the DuBois Street crossing by a standing BNSF freight train, and thus proceeded to a private railroad crossing just beyond the end of the stopped train. As they crossed the tracks, their vehicle was smashed and dragged 60 feet down the track by a southbound BNSF train, hidden from their view by the standing train, and unwarned due to there being no automatic crossing signals.
The crossing has a regular stop sign and a sign indicating it is a private crossing. The parents, Craig Lyons, 45, and Beth Lyons, 43, who were in the front seat, were airlifted to St. Mary’s Medical Center and St. John’s Mercy Medical Center, respectively. The father sustained a horrible leg injury, while the two children, Cassie Lyons, 16, and Jacob Lyons, 10, were taken by ambulance to St. Joseph West Hospital, in Lake St. Louis, MO. All four were admitted in serious condition
NOTE: Until cabooses were eliminated from freight trains due to the railroads desiring to reduce crew costs a few years ago, it was the duty of a crew member from the caboose of the stopped train to stand upon and flag (guard) the crossing which was obscured by the train in territory where trains would pass in proximity to a grade crossing. Unfortunately, all too often cost-cutting measures also mean a reduction of safety responsibility by the railroad industry.