(Cade, Louisiana – September 29, 2014)
On Monday afternoon at about 4:59 P.M., the notoriously dangerous and unguarded railroad crossing of BNSF tracks, over which both Union Pacific and Amtrak trains both pass as well at a maximum speed of 70 mph, and Babineaux Road (St. Martin Parish Road 370), was the site of the sixth train/motor vehicle accident to occur there since the Federal Railroad Administration began to monitor such accidents in the 1970’s.
New Iberia, LA resident Jack Derouen was rushed to a New Iberia, LA hospital after his Suzuki I-280 pickup truck was demolished by a westbound Union Pacific freight train on the tracks owned by BNSF Railway. No information on his condition or facts about the accident were released by Major Ginny Higgins, St. Martin Parish Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman, but who did say that the victim was not attempting to race the train across the intersection. A BNSF official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to his lack of authority to speak to the news media, said that the vehicle appeared to stop on the tracks before the collision.
The crossing does not have any active warning devices, such as lights and gates. It is virtually certain that if equipped with lights and gates this accident would not have happened. Both BNSF and Operation Lifesaver all know 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%.
There was no explanation from authorities as to why a crossing which has now been the site of three deaths and seven non-fatal injuries does not qualify for active protective devices to serve as deterrents to collisions with the 14 daily trains which pass there.