(Louisville, Kentucky – October 13, 2015)
Those who ignore history are destined to repeat it. The phrase may be classified as a cliché, but when authorized action is delayed, human life is endangered and catastrophic recurrences are risked.
As the sole survivor of a horrendous collision at a Norfolk Southern railroad crossing in the Beuchel area of Louisville, KY on March 14, 2015, Kismat Mishra is urging the railroad add protection, automatic gates, where three of his follow soccer fans, players and high school students died. The March 14, 2015 accident occurred when their vehicle was struck by a train consisting of 96 cars being powered by four locomotives at 44 mph (on a stretch of single track used by a Federal Railroad Administration-recorded 30 freight trains daily at a top permissible speed of 45 mph) over seven months ago. The crossing had flashing lights, but lacked automatic gates and the motorists sight lines were obstructed by heavy vegetation.
Kismat Mishra, 17, who was finally released from hospitalization to participate in his graduation ceremonies at Jefferson County’s Wagener High School in late May, has continued to implore railroad and governmental authorities to proceed with added crossing protection, automatic gates, that was authorized prior to the tragedy. FRA documents say this accident was the seventh to occur at the NS/Crawford Lane intersection since the agency was established.
Even though the City of Louisville has installed speed bumps, stop signs and removed a large tree which was blocking the blind intersection, both Norfolk Southern and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet have dragged their collective feet in complying with a federal grant that was issued over a year ago, intended to add crossing gates to the crossing.
Meanwhile, on August 3, an eighth accident occurred when two men were injured as they attempted to drive a pickup truck through the crossing.
Mishra still struggles with memory of the March tragedy, telling WAVE-TV, Channel 3 Louisville news reporter William Joy that “I don’t know what happened” in the crash that resulted in death for his three friends.
“There could’ve been more accidents,” commented Louisville City Councilman Steve Magre to WAVE. “I think it’s getting to the point of being ridiculous.”
The railroad was reportedly in agreement with the installation and maintenance of gates at the Crawford Lane crossing, but then waffled to a position of wanting elimination of the crossing altogether, only to return to its original concept after the Louisville Fire Department objected to closure of the route over safety concerns for fire protection.
“This is really a significant safety issue,” charged Councilman Magre. “We want the gates and we want them now!”
“They’ve got to stop the train accidents,” agreed victim Mishra, who still can’t move his right arm above his shoulder and struggles to barely move his right leg. “They’ve got to put in the gates!”