(San Angelo, Texas – April 18, 2014)
A 22-year-old Miles, TX woman received what Texas Dept. of Public Safety Trooper Alan Dykstra described as “incapacitating injuries” when the 2003 Chevrolet pickup truck she was driving collided with a 75-car Texas Pacifico train at the dangerous, unguarded crossing of TP rails and Texas FM Road 1692 at about 5:15 P.M. Friday afternoon.
The victim, Kathryn Monica McLain-Murray, who works as a waitress as she pursues a degree in nursing at Angelo State University, was flown to Shannon Medical Center in San Angelo for treatment of what witnesses said were two broken legs.
The TP/FM 1692 grade crossing does not have any active warning devices such as lights and gates. It is virtually certain that lights and gates would have prevented this incident. Both Texas Pacifico and Operation Lifesaver know 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%.
The crossing, on a former Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway line obtained in 2005 and converted to the nearly-400 mile TP regional railroad headquartered in San Angelo, TX, but owned by Grupo Mexico, has now been the site of four injury-causing accidents according to the FRA.
Friday’s accident marked the second highway vehicle/train collision in two weeks in the San Angelo, Tom Green County area. On April 7, the unidentified male driver of a Chrysler Sebring, who works for SOTEX Oil Field Services, collided with another TP freight train at a dirt road private crossing, which San Angelo Live Reporter Chelsea Schmid referred to as being “completely unmarked – there are no lights or signs.” The non-injury accident caused massive damage to the car as it spun it 180 degrees, with the train coming to a stop about 1/8 of a mile beyond the crossing. The reporter also said that “Residents in the area have come out to view the situation and are complaining that the trains frequently pass through at high speeds.”