(Jefferson, Iowa — April 16, 2012)
A 26-year-old mother and her 5-year-old son narrowly escaped death, but not serious injury, after her van stalled upon Union Pacific Railroad tracks at the Grimmel Street crossing of UPRR tracks and was hit by a freight train in Jefferson, IA just before 11:00 P.M. Monday night.
Cori Hunsicker, a mother of four and resident of Jefferson, was driving home from a friend’s house with her son, Tyler, asleep in the back seat, and slowed down to negotiate the rough, elevated crossing, only to have her van stall directly on the railroad tracks. Hunsicker "did everything she could to get the van off the tracks" when she noticed a train approaching. Panicking as the gates closed around her and her son, she exited the car and opened the back door in a vain attempt to extricate her son. The train struck the stalled vehicle, throwing Tyler out of the car and knocking his mother away as well, and overturned the van into a trackside ditch.
Both victims were first taken to a hospital in Jefferson before being airlifted to another hospital in Des Moines, where Cori was treated for multiple bruises and injuries to her legs, and Tyler was placed on a ventilator in serious condition.
Hunsicker told news media and Iowa State Patrol officers that she could not remember anything after the impact, but considered herself and her son to be extremely lucky to have survived the crash.