(Crystal Springs, Mississippi – June 13, 2019)
An as-yet unidentified motorist was killed and another occupant seriously injured after their vehicle was struck by a Memphis-bound Amtrak train at a deadly and unguarded Canadian National Railway crossing. The tragic event occurred about 7:45 PM, CDT last Thursday evening.
The injured occupant was airlifted to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, MS, while the other occupant was pronounced dead at the scene by Copiah County Coroner Ellis Stuart. Neither occupant was identified by authorities. Nor was it revealed which occupant was the driver, but Copiah County Sheriff Harold Jones offered his opinion on the tragedy.
“It’s a bad intersection,” the sheriff told news media, including WLBT-TV, as he reflected upon past accidents at the dangerous and unguarded crossing where three have now died and many more injured.
The crossing of Hartley Lane (actually, Railroad Lane at that point, but registered by the Federal Railroad Administration as the former), has now been the site of seven serious accidents, including a massive wreck on May 27, 2008, when another Amtrak train struck a garbage truck, injuring the two men in the truck, plus eight railroad employees and 30 Amtrak passengers.
Previous fatal accidents occurred on June 23, 2003 and October 10, 2010. Yet, the crossing remained without the lights and gates. It is virtually certain that if this crossing was equipped with active warning devices, such as lights and gates, this collision and the numerous before it would not have occurred. Both Canadian National 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%.
A daily average of a dozen Canadian National freight and Amtrak passenger trains cross at the unguarded CN/Hartley Lane (Railroad Lane) road/rail intersection.
Pamela Chrisland, who resides near the crossing, described the post-accident scene to Jackson’s WJTV’s Tim Schwaegler , telling the reporter that “I probably won’t go to sleep tonight…”
It was not known if the position of the sun at the time of the early evening tragedy was a factor in its occurrence.