(Myrtle, Mississippi – August 6, 2014)
A 51-year-old female motorist lost her life early Wednesday morning at about 5:00 A.M. when her car was struck by a BNSF freight train at the non-gated grade crossing of BNSF rails and Graham Avenue in Myrtle, MS.
Nina Lyles of Blue Springs, MS, became the second fatality from six accidents occurring at the intersection, which is equipped with flashing lights, but lacked the most critical component of grade crossing safety appliances, crossing gates. It is virtually certain that if equipped with lights and gates, this accident and the five before it could have been prevented. Both BNSF and Operation Lifesaver 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%
Lyles was pronounced dead at the scene by Union County Coroner Pam Bowman, while Union County Sheriff was heading up the investigation into the tragic death which crossing gates would have been very instrumental in its prevention.
According to Federal Railroad Administration documents, a daily average of 21 BNSF trains roll across the intersection at a top allowable speed of 60 mph.