(Mount Pleasant, Iowa – August 30, 2015)
A man and a woman, whose relationship to one another, if any, was not known, awaited the passage of an eastbound Burlington Northern Santa Fe at the North Lincoln Street grade crossing of BNSF’s double-tracked, 60 mph main line Sunday morning at about 8:45 A.M., only to then walk across the unguarded sidewalk crossing and be struck by a westbound train which was hidden from view by the first train.
The man was declared dead at the scene, but the woman, at first thought to be a fatality as well, was revived and sent to the Henry County Health Center in Mount Pleasant, from where she was airlifted to University Hospital in Iowa City, IA, where she passed away from her severe injuries early Monday.
The victims were later identified as Thomas Riley, 31, and Leliania Gillom, 39, both residents of Mount Pleasant.
Although the two-lane North Lincoln Street has flashing signals and a gate arm which extends only partially across the north and southbound lanes and comes nowhere near the sidewalk which parallels the southbound lane, it has no actual protection for pedestrians. The crossing lies just east of the Mount Pleasant Amtrak Station, and sees the daily passage of 40 BNSF freight and Amtrak passenger trains.
The stopped freight train, which finally came to a halt minutes after the tragedy, blocked every crossing in the city except for White Street, and those arteries remained impassible for hours as investigation into the accident was conducted by law enforcement and railroad officials.
The Henry County Medical Examiner was reportedly still in the process Monday afternoon of conducting his investigation into the tragedy.