(Belleville, Illinois – March 25, 2016)
A wife dropping her husband off at his workplace Friday morning at about 6:30 A.M., CDT was hit by a Norfolk Southern freight train at the crossing of North 24th Street and NS tracks in Belleville, IL, sending both occupants of small, light-colored sedan to a Belleville hospital for treatment of undisclosed injuries. Belleville is an Illinois-side suburb of St. Louis, MO.
The couple, both said to be in their 30’s, were still in their car as the westbound train, said to be traveling at 25 mph, dragged the car northbound vehicle nearly a quarter of a mile before coming to a halt.
The accident, the fifth to occur at the crossing where westbound rail traffic emerges from behind structures, heavy trackside tree lines, and a tight curve, would likely have been prevented had the North 24th/NS road/rail intersection been equipped with active warning devices, such as flashing lights, bells and crossing gates. It is virtually certain that if this crossing was equipped with lights and gates, this collision would not have happened. Both Norfolk Southern 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%.
The crossing sits directly behind and in full view of the residents of a dormitory on the Lindenwood University Belleville campus. The crossing sees the average daily passage of a dozen NS freight trains which are allowed to travel at speeds as high as 60 mph.
The couple’s injuries were described only as believed to be non-life-threatening, but each was transported in a separate ambulance to hospital care. Police issued no citation in the accident.
The crossing primarily provides access to the Roesch, Inc. complex, where the male passenger was employed. According to the company’s website, Roesch is a 95-year-old concern established through the application of porcelain enamel, stainless steel and metal fabrication, but with operations in food equipment, home appliance, HVAC and hearth, patio and BBQ manufacturing in addition to construction and packaged ice operations.