(Walker, Louisiana – December 12, 2012)
The mother of a six-year-old daughter and wife of a paralyzed husband died Wednesday afternoon on her way to work when she turned south off of Florida Avenue and into the Livingston Parish Industrial Park on Sunland Drive where her PT Cruiser was struck by a westbound Canadian National Railway freight train at the dangerous, unguarded crossing of Sunland Drive and CN railroad tracks, and carried 1000 feet down the tracks before the train came to a halt.
The crossing where 29-year-old Laraye London-Phillips of Denham Springs, LA is “protected” only by standard, passive railroad crossbuck signs even though many citizens told of requests to Canadian National for flashing lights, bells and gates which went unanswered.
“It would be a lot better if we had a signal to tell us that a train was coming down those tracks,” said Michael West.
“We’re in here day in and day out,” observed Patrick Riggins. “Railroad crossing arms would be great for us.”
The Wednesday fatality was not the first accident at the crossing and, in fact, was the second incident this year. Although previous accidents had either been non-injury or non-fatality cases, Wednesday’s was the seventh time the crossbuck signs have failed to halt an accident at the CNR/Sunland Drive crossing. According to the Federal Railroad Administration, four CN trains cross there daily at a top speed of 49 mph.
Friends and family of the victim held a candlelight vigil honoring her memory at the Live Oak Ball Park in Denham Springs, LA Thursday night.