(Lewisville, Arkansas – October 23, 2013)
The driver of a 2010 Chrysler van, whose job, at which he had been employed only a week, was to pick up railroad crews of trains stranded under the federal “Hours of Service” law, was killed early Wednesday morning at about 7:53 A.M. when he stopped his van on one of the pair of Union Pacific Railroad tracks at the dangerous and unguarded crossing of Red Oak Street (also known as Burton Town Road) and UPRR tracks in Lewisville, AR.
Robert A. Collins, 51, of Texarkana, AR had stopped upon the crossing surface, obviously believing the train approaching his vehicle would stop, as he was supposed to pick up the crew and transport them to lodging in Texarkana. Under the United States Dept. of Transportation/Federal Railroad Administration’s “Hours of Service” law, train crews must be relieved from their duties for rest after being on duty 12 continuous hours, and railroads generally contract with private personnel haulers to meet trains at designated points where the locomotive engineer, conductor and any additional operating personnel in the crew can be taken to a designated facility or to their home terminal for rest.
The victim attempted to back his vehicle off the tracks, but was struck on the driver’s side by the train, one of a daily average of 16 which operate over the crossing at a maximum allowable speed of 45 mph.
Collins was pronounced dead at the scene by Lafayette County Coroner Derek Padillo according to Chief Jason Tomlin of the Lewisville Police Dept., who investigated the tragedy.
According to FRA records, the accident was the first fatality and fourth recorded incident at the Red Oak/UPRR crossing, with previous crashes resulting in a pair of non-fatal injuries. The crossing has no active protection such as flashing lights, bells and crossing gates, but rather has only passive signage such as railroad cross-bucks and highway stop signs, which have no capability whatsoever to warn motorists of oncoming trains.