(Zeeland Township, Michigan – September 15, 2016)
A Grand Rapids, MI motorist was seriously injured last Thursday afternoon at about 3:50 P.M., EDT at a non-gated crossing of CSX railroad tracks and 64th Avenue in Zeeland Township, MI. The motorist complied with a highway stop sign at Chicago Drive and 64th Avenue, stopping for traffic to clear on the multi-lane, heavily-travelled avenue, yet he did not realize the back of his truck was still on the short storage tracks. His truck was hit on the passenger’s side by an eastbound CSX train hauling six empty cars. The driver was transported to Holland Hospital where he was admitted for treatment of serious internal injuries.
Angel Rutiaga, 36, received life-threatening injuries after he crossed the tracks before flashing signals were activated and then, due to the poor placement of the Chicago Avenue/64th Avenue stop sign, which gives only a few feet of storage space and insufficient for anything longer than a SmartCar, and then could not make his intended right turn onto Chicago due to heavy rush-hour traffic, and was struck.
The crossing has a notorious history, having now been the site of eight accidents resulting in two deaths and half a dozen non-fatal injuries. The crossing accommodates a daily average of six CSX freight and Amtrak passenger trains cross there at a top allowable speed of 65 mph, yet it does not have any automatic gates, which studies have shown to reduce collisions by up to two-thirds.