(Rayville, Louisiana – May 16, 2019)
Two people, described as a local couple, were killed before 7:00 PM, CDT, Thursday evening by a Kansas City Southern (“KCS”) freight train. The collision occured at the dangerous and unguarded crossing of Sumlin Ranch Road and KCS rails just west of Rayville, LA, near the intersection of Bee Bayou Road and Highway 80. Killed in the collision were the driver of a 2018 Chevrolet Cruze, Shonda Hayes, 48, and the passenger, Gary Briggs, 48, both of Monroe, LA.
KNOE-TV News, Monroe, LA, pointed out that “There is (are) no railroad crossing arms or lights at the intersection.” The crossing sees a daily average of 20 KCS trains at speeds up to 59 mph.
Richland Parish Sheriff Gary Gilley added emphasis of the non-signalized nature of the crossing, telling KNOE that “We have a lot of crossings with arms on them and some like this one here with no arms on them.” But it is virtually certain that if this crossing was equipped with active warning devices, such as lights and gates, this collision would not have occurred. Both KCS 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%.
Sheriff Gilley added that the train’s horn as well as another car’s horn were both sounded, but “Apparently, they (the victims) didn’t hear it.”
The Sheriff also told KNOE-TV that he was “asking for the community to come together and pray for this grieving family.”