(St. Louis, Missouri – May 5, 2014)
A 27-year-old female student from University City, MO died beneath the wheels of a St. Louis MetroLink light rail train when she slipped as she was attempting to cross the dangerous, unguarded pedestrian crossing leading to the University of Missouri-St. Louis North station of the heavily-used commuter passenger rail operation at about 5:00 P.M. Monday afternoon.
St. Louis County Police spokesman Officer Brian Schellman told St. Louis Post-Dispatch news writer Valerie Schremp Hahn that the woman was crossing the tracks at a designated crosswalk when she slipped and was hit by the train. The victim was still alive and conscious, but critically injured, as rescue workers extricated her from beneath the train and prepared to air lift her by helicopter to an undisclosed St. Louis, MO hospital. Identified as UMSL student Veronica Muo, the victim later died after arriving at the hospital.
Considerable UMSL student criticism was aimed at the perceived lack of safe design of the crossing, equipped solely with passive signs, which can give pedestrians no warning whatsoever of the approach of the dozens of MetroLink trains that cross at the UMSL-North station daily. Only properly-functioning crossing gates, flashing lights and bells can possibly perform such protective duties.
Among others, UMSL Senior Abdul Tariq told KSDK-TV reporter Casey Nolen that trains come from around a building that creates a blind spot and blocks their view of the tracks and approaching trains. He said that several other MetroLink pedestrian crossings at other stations are designed differently, utilizing a right-angled approach that allows passengers to look down the tracks before crossing. The UMSL North station crossing is a direct, but partially sight-blocked, route to the station platform.
Tariq said that other locations’ pedestrian crossings are designed so that “You have to cross, and go in a zigzag way so that you have a direct look at the train. That would be a very good option if we could have that (at UMSL North),” adding that “We have the space for that.”
But MetroLink Spokeswoman Patti Beck said that changes to anything ranked as “way too early to tell.” She explained that “There’s a lot of work and a lot of information that still has to be gathered before we can decide what, if any, changes should be made at that station.”