(Ogden, Arkansas – February 1, 2016)
John Braswell whose 10-year-old son was killed, along with Bobby Burris and Linda Hobbs, in a tragic train/vehicle collision last month says that crossing gates could have prevented this tragedy. The collision occurred when the car in which his son was a passenger was broadsided by a Kansas City Southern freight train at the dangerous and unguarded intersection of KCS rails and Pine Street in the western Arkansas community of Ogden.
“People need more warning here,” the still-grieving father told KTAL-TV Investigative Reporter Alex Meachum in an interview Monday after the January 21 that took the lives of his son, Braden Miller, as well as that of family friend Bobby Burris, 37, and seriously injured Linda Hobbs, 66. KCS freight train as it approached the occupied auto’s passenger side from behind a line of trees at an acute 30 degree angle. A daily average of 20 KCS freight trains barrel through Ogden at a maximum allowable speed of 55 mph says the Federal Railroad Administration’s grade crossing inventory website.
“There’s no warning here, none. If you’ve got your windows up and they blow the horn you can’t hear it,” Braswell continued.
Burris’s uncle, Jewell Howard, was equally constructive critical, citing the fact that the KCS crossing on the south end of Ogden is equipped with lights and gates, but that the Pine Street crossing, on the north side of town, has been ignored, regardless of mayoral request.
“It’s a curve (in the tracks) so they should have put one there and there (at Pine Street),” advised Howard, who, himself, suffered serious leg injuries in a rail crossing crash elsewhere several years ago. ”It’s like a blind side there (at Pine Street),” he observed.
Ogden Mayor Sandra Furlow related the negative results of her past meetings with railroad and Arkansas Dept. of Highways & Transportation authorities, saying “I had that meeting about three years ago and they said we were ‘low priority’. So I’d just like to meet again and reevaluate the situation and get some blinking lights or crossing arms “ she told KTAL’s Meachum. “That’s why I continue to have these meetings so they know we do have a need because it is a small community and that’s the only way in and out is (are) these two entrances,” the mayor concluded.