(Hannibal, Missouri – December 1, 2013)
A 23-year-old Hannibal, MO resident, driving his 1993 Ford Ranger pickup truck southbound on Marion County, MO Road 433 just west of Hannibal, received undisclosed injuries when his vehicle was struck by an eastbound Norfolk Southern freight train at about 9:15 A.M. Sunday morning.
Justin T. Meyer was taken to Blessing Hospital in Quincy, IL for treatment. Meyer’s vehicle was termed a “total loss“ by authorities. He encountered the train as it approached County Road 433 at an acute 60-degree angle and emerged from behind heavy tree foliage that made the train extremely difficult to see by any southbound driver. The road narrows extremely from both directions on the crossing approach, adding to the danger of the unguarded crossing which has neither flashing lights, bells nor crossing gates. It is virtually certain that lights and gates would have prevented this incident. Both Norfolk Southern and Operation Lifesaver know 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%.
The crossing has had a few accidents of identical nature as Sunday’s in the recent past, including a July 4, 2004 collision that injured two occupants of a southbound pickup truck when their vehicle was struck by an eastbound NS train, as well as a July 29, 2011 non-injury crash between another southbound pickup truck and an eastbound train.
Even though the railroad crossing is on a school bus route and a daily average of nearly a dozen NS trains cross there at a top allowable speed of 50 mph, there has obviously been no sense of urgency by railroad, county or state authorities to provide better public protection at the crossing. The angled crossing has heavy groves of trees on all four quadrants, making approach from either direction an extremely difficult maneuver.
Responding to the accident were the Missouri State Highway Patrol, Marion County Sheriff’s Office, Hannibal Police Dept., Marion County ambulance and Hannibal Rural Fire Dept.