(Erie, Illinois – April 25, 2020)
A 65-year-old Erie, IL man was pronounced dead and his 16-year-old female passenger was airlifted to the University of Iowa Hospital in Iowa City, IA with life-threatening injuries after the northbound car they were in was struck by a BNSF train. The collision occurred at the dangerous and unguarded crossing of BNSF rails and Smit Road just outside of Erie, IL Saturday at about 12:35 PM.
The surviving victim, who was seated in the passenger seat, was identified as a relative of the deceased driver. The Whiteside County Sheriff’s would not release ID’s on either victim pending notification of relatives.
The crossing is not equipped with any active warning devices, such as lights and gates. According to railroad submitted information, there are an average of 14 BNSF trains that traverse the Smit Road crossing at maximum speeds of 60 mph.
It is virtually certain that lights and gates could have prevented this collision. BNSF 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 collisions by as much as 96%.