(Clarksville, Missouri – June 13, 2015)
An Elsberry, MO resident was injured Saturday evening at about 7:51 P.M. when she attempted to cross Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway tracks at the dangerous and unguarded intersection of BNSF tracks and Main Cross Street in Clarksville, MO.
Coletta York, 78, was driving her 2015 Ford Escape SUV eastbound on the city street when it was struck and heavily damaged by the southbound BNSF freight train, one of 18 that travel through that rail corridor daily at top allowable speeds of 45 mph. The accident sent the victim to Pike County Hospital in Louisiana, MO via Pike County Ambulance for treatment of her undisclosed injuries.
The Main Cross Street/BNSF crossing has no active warning devices, such as lights and gates. It is virtually certain that if this crossing was equipped with lights and gates, this accident would not have happened. Both BNSF 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%.
Interestingly, current Federal Railroad Administration documents refer to the crossing as “private”, even though an earlier accident which injured two people several years ago designated the crossing as “public”.
Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. S.M. Bielawski assisted local authorities with the accident investigation.