(Hillview, Illinois — June 29, 2015)
Three individuals, all occupants of a 1996 Ford Explorer, were airlifted to Springfield, IL and St. Louis, MO hospitals for treatment of serious injuries after their vehicle was struck by a Kansas City Southern train at the dangerous and unguarded grade crossing of Greene County Road 400 E (River Road) near Hillview, IL Monday afternoon at about 4:20 P.M., CDT.
None of the victims were identified, but one person was flown to the HSHS St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, while the baby and the other adult were flown to another hospital in St. Louis. The three were believed to be all members of the same family.
The CR 400 E (River Road) crossing is not equipped with any active protective systems like flashing lights, crossing gates or bells which likely could have prevented the tragedy. Both KCS 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%.
Instead, the only devices are passive railroad cross-buck signs which cannot possibly alert drivers to the approach of the five KCS freight trains which cross there on an average day at a maximum speed of 49 mph.
Greene County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Cale Hoesman said the vehicle was a total loss, and that his agency was assisted by Illinois State Police, White Hall Police and White Hall Fire and Rescue in responding to the accident.