(Winnebago, Illinois – December 3, 2014)
A 61-year-old semi-trailer truck driver hauling shelled corn was killed Wednesday morning at about 9:14 A.M., CST when he attempted to cross the non-gated crossing of Alworth Road and Canadian National railroad tracks in Winnebago County, IL, near the community of Winnebago, and was struck by a short CN freight train.
Michael Burtch of Rockford, IL was pronounced dead at the scene. The crossing has flashing lights, but lacks the critical element of a crossing gate in its protective package. The crossing has three tracks crossing at a less-than-perpendicular angles. Two earlier accidents at the crossing resulted in neither death nor injury.
“The train was only two cars long, and was traveling at an unusually high rate of speed,” remarked one unidentified witness. “There are blind spots on semi trucks and it is very possible the short train was in that blind spot.”
The Alworth Road/CN crossing accommodates a daily average of 10 trains at a top allowable speed of 50 mph, according to the Federal Railroad Administration, whose state and railroad information inputted crossing inventory system erroneously refers to the rural highway as “Winnebago Road”.