(Kellogg, Iowa – July 7, 2014)
Late Monday afternoon at about 4:30 P.M. CDT, a veteran employee was injured when his road maintenance machine was hit by a westbound Iowa Interstate Railroad freight train that came from behind a large grain elevator and tree adjacent to the questionably-designed, dangerous, unguarded, skewed and obscured crossing of what is listed as Market Street on Federal Railroad Administration records, but is really an extension of either 19th Street East or Main Street, Jasper County, IA.
Rick Rawlins, 55, of Kellogg, IA was negotiating the machine across a “C” shaped crossing that connects three streets, when he and the road maintainer were hit by the train, one of four which cross there daily at maximum allowable speeds of 40 mph. The crossing has zero active protective devices such as the crossing gates, bells and flashing lights that, if operating properly, would certainly have prevented the near-fatal accident. Both Iowa Interstate Railroad and Operation Lifesaver know 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%
Employees of the nearby Heartland Cooperative grain elevator and crew members of the IAIS RR freight train were able to keep the victim stable until Kellogg EMS and Fire Dept. personnel arrived to treat him at the scene. According to a news release from Jasper County Sheriff John Halferty, Rawlins was then rushed to an area hospital by Kellogg Ambulance.
How the crossing has escaped being the site of more crossing collisions in the past is nothing short of miraculous with its multiple road connections and aforementioned idiosyncrasies, but it can no longer claim such a distinction.