(Hiawatha, Iowa – July 21, 2022)
Late Wednesday afternoon, a 50-year-old driver was t-boned by a freight train and is now in the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The Hiawatha Police said she barely escaped death after the collision. When responding to a separate call, they heard a train conductor blowing his horn and rushed over to check on her. The train hit the back door on the driver’s side, barely missing her door.
The crossing where the incident occurred is on Coral Drive in a residential area. It is owned and controlled by a fully owned subsidiary of Canadian National (CN), Chicago, Central & Pacific Railroad Company. The crossing has also been the site of a prior collision that resulted in injury to another motorist.
Despite its collision history there are no active warning devices, such as lights and gates, at the highway crossing. When the Hiawatha Police were asked about the lack of advanced warning devices, Captain Ben Kamm responded, “I couldn’t answer that. My understanding is that the railroad puts up crossing arms where they’re needed and appropriate. I’m not sure why there aren’t crossing arms at this intersection.” It is very virtually certain that the addition of lights and gates could have prevented this tragedy. CN 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 collisions by as much as 96%.
Hiawatha Police Department is still investigating the collision.