(Dexter, New Mexico – July 9, 2016)
A 44-year-old female resident of Dexter, NM lost her life late Saturday afternoon as she attempted to cross Southwestern Railroad, Inc. tracks at the dangerous and unguarded crossing of East Lupton Road and SWRR tracks in Dexter. The victim was struck by one of the four daily trains that cross there at maximum speeds of 49 mph.
Delefina Chairez was driving her vehicle westbound on East Lupton, a public street at 5:50 P.M., MDT when was struck. Even though the street is public, according to Federal Railroad Administration kept records, the crossing is listed as private. According to FRA records, the crossing has been the site of two previous accidents, the latter of which resulted in injury to a motorist in August of 2007.
It was not yet known whether the train sounded its horn before the crash became imminent. However, it is known that there were no automatic, active signals such as flashing lights and gates present at the E. Lupton/SWRR intersection. It is virtually certain that if this crossing was equipped with lights and gates, this collision would not have happened. Both SWRR 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%.
Southwestern Railroad is owned and operated by the rail-related holdings of The Western Group in Ogden, UT, which has eight railroads and rail repair facilities in its portfolio.