(White Castle, Louisiana – June 2, 2016)
An adult Baton Rouge, LA brother and sister, enroute to a funeral in White Castle, LA, were both killed in a horrific crash last Thursday just after 12:00 noon, CDT. The collision between the motorists white Land Rover SUV and Union Pacific train caused the vehicle to careen into another car parked by funeral attendees.
Driver Byron Henderson, 41, and his 42-year old sister, Myra Henderson, were crossing the dangerous and unguarded crossing of Dorcy Road and Union Pacific Railroad tracks when they were struck by the train. They likely never heard or saw the southbound train, said to be traveling at 59 mph, which struck the rear section of their vehicle. It was also raining at the time of the crash. Many fellow mourners were shaken as they witnessed the horrible crash at the crossing which accommodates as many as 16 UPRR trains daily at maximum speeds of 60 mph.
Far from the first train/motor vehicle accident to occur at the crossing, as just last June 23, two people were seriously injured in a crash at the unguarded crossing, and two earlier collisions had resulted in three additional non-fatal injuries. Despite the collision history at the crossing, there are no active warning devices, such as lights and gates, to warn motorists of an oncoming train. It is virtually certain that if this crossing was equipped with lights and gates, this collision and the six before it would not have happened. Both Union Pacific and Operation Lifesaver all 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 locomotive was said to have been blowing its horn prior to the collision, but authorities felt weather conditions probably drowned out most noise.
The tragedy was the second train/highway vehicle that day to occur on the same corridor of tracks that parallel Louisiana Highway 1, as a dump truck had been struck by another Union Pacific train about 9:00 A.M., CDT, in a non-injury event at another Iberville Parish location.