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Illinois Motorist Killed by Amtrak Train at Dangerous, Unguarded Canadian National Crossing

(DeSoto, Illinois – November 1, 2017)

An 18-year-old male resident of Marion, IL was killed at about 11:52 A.M., CDT Wednesday morning when his westbound auto was struck by a southbound Amtrak passenger train.  The collision took place at the extremely dangerous and unguarded intersection of Canadian National (Illinois Central) rails and Helm Road near DeSoto, IL.

The collision that killed Cody Robertson was not only the fifth accident to occur at the crossing, but also was the second in six months and the third in less than two years. The crossing accommodates a daily average of 14 CN freight and Amtrak trains cross at a maximum allowable speed of 79 mph.

The unprotected railroad-highway crossing lacked any form of warning device to warn motorists of high speed Amtrak trains. It is virtually certain that if this crossing was protected by active warning devices, this collision and the five before it would not have occurred. Amtrak, CN, 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%.

Further, since this crossing is marked as “private”, the Federal Railroad Administration railroad crossing rules do not require train crews to sound the locomotive’s horn as they approach private crossings. Thus, it was unknown when or if a warning signal was sent to the motorist.