(Campbell, Missouri – August 13, 2018)
A 59-year-old resident of Holcomb, MO was pronounced dead by Dunklin County, MO Coroner James Powell after he was killed by a Union Pacific freight train. The deceased, Jeffery Rees was struck when tried to drive his Ford Ranger pickup truck northeast over the elevated and questionably maintained crossing of Dunklin County Road 301 and Union Pacific Railroad tracks less than a mile north of the dividing point between Missouri and Arkansas. The tragedy occurred about 11:00 A.M., CDT Monday morning.
Jeffery Rees had just crossed the3-way intersection of County Roads 217 and 301 and U.S. Highway 62, which closely parallels UPRR tracks and was struck by a southwest-bound .freight train operated by Locomotive Engineer Derek Childers, 29, of Little Rock, AR. The railroad tracks that go through the crossing carry a daily average of 20 Union Pacific freight trains at a maximum allowable speed of 70 mph.
Digital Content Manager Amber Ruch of KFVS-TV, Channel 12 pointed out that “The ‘signal devices’ at the crossing were a yield sign and crossbucks” (although satellite images of the site showed only the passive standard railroad crossbuck signs). Yet, neither sign could possibly have warned any approaching driver of an oncoming train. Only flashing signal lights and crossing gates could and would have accomplished such an accident-prevention, and, as in this case and so many like it, lifesaving task.
It is virtually certain that if this crossing was equipped with lights and gates, this collision would not have happened. Both Union Pacific and Operation Lifesaver all 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%.