(Ottumwa, Iowa – April 3, 2017)
A 58-year-old City of Ottumwa, IA employee was critically injured Monday morning at about 8:45 A.M., CDT when the Sewer Dept. John Deere 544k end loader he was operating was struck and heavily damaged by a northbound Canadian Pacific train. The collision occurred at the dangerous and unguarded public crossing of Gateway Drive, near the City’s west side material storage yard.
Operator Scott Allan Jones of Ottumwa was first rushed to Ottumwa Regional Health Hospital before being airlifted to Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines for treatment of his injuries.
News Director Nick Davis of KBIZ Radio in Ottumwa reported that “The railroad crossing has no flashing lights or crossing arms to protect traffic.” It is virtually certain that if this crossing was protected by active warning devices, this collision would not have occurred. Canadian Pacific 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%.
The collision last Monday was the second accident to occur at the crossing. The first accident occurred in almost an identical manner on on November 2, 2001, when another CP train struck a city-owned end loader at the same CP/Gateway Drive road/rail intersection. The maximum allowable speed for trains at that crossing is 40 mph.
Lead investigative agency for the accident will be the Iowa State Patrol since the case involved city-owned equipment.
The incident not only closed two city grade crossings, but because the lead locomotive of the four pulling the train fouled the interlocking crossover between CP and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe/Amtrak east-west line, all rail traffic in the Wapello County Seat city was halted for several hours.