(Hamilton, Mississippi – August 22, 2013)
Although his unspecified injuries were termed as “non-life-threatening,” a visitor to Hamilton, MS from Syracuse, NY, was admitted to Baptist Memorial Hospital – Golden Triangle in Columbus, MS after a BNSF freight train hit the rear quarter panel of his Chevrolet Malibu and spun it 180 degrees as the driver attempted to cross the intersection of BNSF railroad tracks and Stovall Crossing Road in rural Monroe County, MS near Hamilton, MS at about 12:37 P.M. Thursday afternoon.
Whether Jessie Thomas, 50, was aware of the oncoming train could not be immediately determined, as the BNSF railroad crossing has no active, automatic signals, like flashing lights, bells or crossing gates, to protect motorists from the five trains that cross there daily at a top allowable speed of 40 mph, depending instead upon two poorly-maintained, standard, passive railroad cross-buck signs that offer no warning whatsoever of oncoming trains.
However, it is virtually certain that lights and gates would have prevented this incident. Both BNSF 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%.
Monroe County E911 Director Bunky Goza said a call was received immediately following and regarding the accident, and local Monroe County/Hamilton, MS volunteer fire and rescue forces, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Dept. and Mississippi Highway Patrol troopers were dispatched to respond to the accident, investigate and give care to the victim.