(Keytesville, Missouri — April 20, 2017)
The lack of active warning signals at a heavily used rural Missouri railroad crossing cost a 36-year-old Salisbury, MO farmer his life Thursday afternoon at about 2:30 P.M., CDT.
The absence of flashing lights and gates was clearly a major factor in the tragic death of William Thomson at the dangerous and unguarded Norfolk Southern road/rail intersection of Cal Hubbard Avenue (Chariton County Road 425) and NS tracks. The crossing is just south of U.S. Highway 24. The victim was operating a Case tractor when he was struck by the train.
The news media was unanimous in its own causal assessment of the single track crossing which sees a daily average of 22 NS trains cross daily at maximum allowable speed of 60 mph. ABC affiliate KTVO-TV Channel 3, Kirksville, MO said that “The intersection was only marked with a post and sign noting the crossing.”
News Radio KTTN in Trenton, MO charged that law enforcement “officers noted the crossing was marked with a post and a sign. ”FM News from KMZU Radio added that “There was reportedly a sign marking the crossing; however, crossing arms are not present at the intersection of the road and the tracks.”
The victim was pronounced dead at the scene of the tragedy. It is virtually certain that if this crossing was protected by active warning devices, this collision would not have occurred. Norfolk Southern and Operation Lifesaver 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%.