(Highland, Illinois – May 2, 2017)
Unaware of an approaching southbound CSX freight train, an unidentified Illinois female motorist was involved in a life-threatening collision. The victim had to be extricated from her car and rushed to St. Joseph’s Hospital in nearby Highland, IL, after her four-door Suzuki sedan was crushed on the driver’s side by the CSX freight train. The collision occurred at a private crossing at about 8:17 A.M., CDT last Tuesday.
The crossing, on Farmlane Road and near the Veterans Honor Parkway overpass, was not equipped with crossing gates or flashing lights, instead having only silent signs of railroad crossing. According to Federal Railroad Administration railroad crossing files, a daily average of a dozen CSX freight trains cross the double-track crossing at a maximum allowable speed of 60 mph. It is virtually certain that if this crossing was protected by active warning devices, this collision would not have occurred. CSX 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%.
In fact, Highland-Pierron Fire Department Chief Steve Plocher speculated to Reporter Megan Braa of the Belleville News-Democrat that “she might not have seen the train coming, because it is an unmarked crossing, and there is a house on one side that would block the view.”
The victim had to be carried down the roadbed along the edge of the track to a ground ambulance (due to inclement weather preventing a medical helicopter from landing at the site) via one of the first responders’ All-Terrain-Vehicle, and transported to the hospital. The victim was admitted with what Chief Plocher described to News Radio WGEL as “potentially life-threatening injuries and severe head trauma”.
The Madison County Sheriff’s Department investigated the accident.