(Fluker, Louisiana – October 10, 2018)
The as-yet unidentified driver of an 18-wheeler died and some of the 98 passengers on board Amtrak’s “City of New Orleans” passenger train complained of minor injuries after the train struck an empty semi at the dangerous and unguarded private crossing serving Kent Enterprises in the Tangipahoa Parish community of Fluker, LA about 2 PM, CDT Wednesday afternoon.
Law enforcement authorities were not releasing name, age, address or gender of the victim whose death was the first recorded in four collisions that have occurred at the crossing, which also have resulted in three non-fatal injuries. The crossing is owned and maintained by Canadian National Railway. Despite the fact that Canadian National freight and Amtrak passenger trains traverse the crossing at speeds as high as 79 mph, there are no active warning devices at this crossing, such as light and gates.
It is virtually certain that if this crossing was equipped with lights and gates, this collision and the three before it would not have happened. Canadian National, Amtrak, 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 crossing, which exits off of U.S. Highway 51, which parallels the railroad through Fluker, is designated as “private”, as are all seven crossings in the community and as such are not included in the Federal Railroad Administration rules that require train engineers to sound their locomotive’s horns as they approach the road/rail intersections. Therefore, the victim trucker may have had little or no warning of the approaching train.