(Edwardsburg, Michigan December 5, 2016)
A 43-year-old resident of Chicago, IL attempting to drive a Kia minivan east on Harris Street near Edwardsburg, MI across a double-track, dangerous and unguarded Canadian National Railway crossing, died when he was struck by a southwest-bound 75-car-long freight train Monday afternoon at about 2:45 P.M.
Driver John Morris was pronounced dead at the scene after his minivan was impaled upon the nose of the trains locomotive. Emergency responders from the Edwardsburg Fire Dept. and investigating officers from the Michigan State Police had to respond to where the car and train came to a stop, the intersection of Hess Road and Yankee Street,.
A nearby resident, Melissa Shafer, told WSBT-TV Reporter Heather Black that the CN/Harris Street crossing doesnt give you a warning system like others. She added that the crossing approach is obscured by a hill, and that It would be easy to miss the crossing because there are no gates at that particular intersection of the train (tracks) and the street.
Michigan State Police acknowledged that the crossing was on a rural dirt road with no railroad crossing signals other than the stop signs according to WNDU-TV, South Bend, IN.
Indeed, it is almost miraculous that no previous accidents have occurred at the crossing, which does lack the safety devices most effective in grade crossing crash prevention, flashing lights and crossing gates. The crossing accommodates three dozen freight trains that cross the Harris Street/CN Railway intersection daily at speeds as high as 60 mph. It is virtually certain that if this crossing was equipped with lights and gates, this collision would not have happened. Both Canadian National and Operation Lifesaver know that 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%.
TV Reporter Black observed that In the state of Michigan, drivers are not required to stop before crossing a railroad track unless they see that a train is coming.