(Montgomery County, Kansas December 21, 2016)
The dangerous and unguarded South Kansas & Oklahoma railroad grade crossing of Montgomery County 6000 Road located near both us highway 169 and Highway 400 in the Cherryvale, KS vicinity recorded its fifth accidental collision last Wednesday. The collision injured all four of the cars occupants, and bringing the total of injuries at this crossing up to eight. The collision occured when a train operated by the South Kansas & Oklahoma RR struck the vehicle at about 12:30 PM, CST.
All of the cars occupants were taken by ambulance to Labette Health Hospital in Parsons. One of the occupants was then airlifted to a Joplin, MO hospital for treatment. Identities, gender, age or residence of any of the victims was not provided by the Montgomery County Sheriffs Office.
The crossing supports around two train movements daily at a maximum speed of 40 mph, and is on a hilly, sometimes partially foliage shaded, County Road 6000 approach. The crossing also lacks any form of active warning devices, such as lights and gates, to warn motorists of oncoming trains. It is virtually certain that if this crossing was equipped with signals, such as lights and gates, this collision would not have happened. Both South Kansas & Oklahoma 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 SK&O RR operates 511 miles of track in three states, and is one of about three dozen short and regional lines railroads under control of the Pittsburg, KS-headquartered Watco Transportation Co.