(Hillsdale, Indiana – June 19, 2014)
On Thursday night, a 74-year-old local resident died while he was attempting to exit his 1992 Chevrolet pickup truck after it became stuck on what the Terre Haute, IN Tribune-Star called a “narrow and seldom used crossing” as a CSX freight train bore down upon the victim. The victim was killed at the “dangerous and unguarded” intersection of railway and roadway at Vermillion County Road 600 South near the southwestern Indiana community of Hillsdale.
William Gilbert, who lived near the dangerously designed crossing, which is barely wide enough to be classified as a “2-lane crossing”, was abandoning his stuck vehicle after repeated attempts to remove it from its impalement on the driver’s side, but didn’t have time to get clear before the train struck and destroyed it, killing the driver just before 10:00 P.M. Thursday evening.
The approaches to the perpendicular crossing both come at 45 degree angles, after CR 600 South parallels the CSX rail route for a short distance on each side, can be called nothing short of “invitations to disaster”, with a daily estimated vehicular count of 250 crossings daily at a crossing equipped with no active warning devices, such as lights and gates. FRA statistics indicate that 20 daily trains travel through the crossing at a top timetable speed of 60 mph. Adding to the lack of design or protective responsibility for the rural crossing is a note on the FRA Crossing Inventory form that declares, in its narrative, that “Advance warning signs both missing.”
Witnesses told Vermillion County Sheriff Bob Spence that it appeared the victim was exiting the vehicle, but either became lodged on something in the cab, or simply could not get away before the train hit the truck and the truck struck him.