(Billings, Missouri – March 13, 2016)
A 75-year-old Marionville, MO woman was fatally injured Sunday evening at about 6:30 P.M., CDT at the dangerous, unguarded intersection of a Christian County road (Lambeth Road) and Burlington Northern Railroad tracks two miles west of Billings, MO by an eastbound BNSF freight train she doubtfully ever knew was coming.
The tragic death of Esther McNutt at the BNSF/Lambeth Road crossing was the third collision to occur there between trains and motor vehicles. According to Federal Railroad Administration records, daily averages of 26 BNSF freight trains pass at a maximum allowable speed of 50 mph. The previous two crashes, which injured a total of three individuals, should have been “warning signs” to railroad. The crossing is only a few feet from Lambeth Road’s intersection with the busy, parallel U.S. Highway 60, yet it is not protected by any active warning devices, such as lights and gates.
It is virtually certain that if this crossing was equipped with lights and gates, this tragedy 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%.
Considering the fact that the BNSF/Lambeth Road crossing is also on a school bus route, were two of the highly-vulnerable student transportation vehicle cross each and every school day, it is even more shocking the railroad has not installed active warning devices at this crossing.