(New Iberia, Louisiana – February 29, 2012)
The 37-year-old driver of a pickup truck not only had her truck destroyed and herself injured, but was also given a ticket by an officer of the Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Office when she attempted to cross Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad tracks at the dangerous, unguarded crossing of South Jefferson Street in New Iberia, LA Wednesday about 4:00 P.M.
Paula Moulton of Lafayette, LA was struck by Amtrak’s “Sunset Limited” passenger train, which she did not see due to the crossing being among several trackside buildings and completely lacking of any automatic protective devices (lights, bells or gates), relying solely upon passive railroad crossbuck signs to “warn” motorists of approaching trains.
The victim was transported to a New Iberia hospital for treatment of undetermined injuries after the train threw her pickup truck, with her inside, against one of the buildings blocking sight distance at the crossing. Captain Ryan Turner of the IPSO said she was given a traffic ticket for “failure to yield” to a train she never saw coming.
The Jefferson Street crossing has now been the site of nine accidents, three of them causing injuries to vehicular occupants, on a BNSF railroad line originally owned by Southern Pacific, and then Union Pacific, after the railroads merged in 1996. About 14 BNSF, UP and Amtrak trains traverse the crossing daily at a maximum speed of 25 mph.
Law enforcement officers in Louisiana are among the most exuberant in the nation at charging motorists for “violations” at railroad crossings since attendance at a the Railroad Grade Crossing Investigation Course session became authorized for state police re-certification credit over two decades ago.