(Mer Rouge, Louisiana – May 10, 2012)
Two women, one of them nine months pregnant, died Thursday about noon when their van was struck by a Union Pacific freight train at a crossing in Mer Rouge, LA that Mer Rouge Chief of Police Mitch Stephens described as “once listed as one of the worst in the U.S.”. The unborn fetus of the van’s passenger, thought to be the sister of the driver, also died, while a 10-month-old infant was taken to a Shreveport, LA hospital after being extricated from the heavily damaged vehicle with injuries Morehouse Parish Sheriff Mike Tubbs described as “extremely critical”.
The Davenport Street/U.S. Highway 165 crossing of UP tracks has now been the site of at least 13 accidents between motor vehicles and trains, with the earlier incidents killing a total of three while injuring another four.
Police Chief Stephens said that the van’s driver did not seem to notice the train, which was approaching at 49 mph. The crossing reportedly has both lights and gates, but no report of how they did or did not enter into the accident was readily available.
Stephens recalled that when he was a Morehouse Parish deputy in the late 80’s and early 90’s, deputies were responding to three or four accidents a month at the location of Thursday’s tragedy.