(Frenchtown Township, Michigan – November 30, 2011)
The tragic death of a 41-year-old mother and serious injury to her 8-year-old daughter at the crossing of Norfolk Southern railroad tracks and Nadeau Road in Frenchtown Township, MI Wednesday afternoon about 3:27 P.M. was made further disastrous after Sgt. Brian Angerer of the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office declared that “the traffic signals were operational.”
The problem with the statement is that both a check of the Federal Railroad Administration’s railroad crossing inventory and news helicopter footage of the accident scene reveal that the crossing of NS tracks and Nadeau Road is only “protected” by standard, passive railroad crossbuck signs, and has no electronic or automatic “traffic signals” such as lights, gates or bells.
The accident which killed Alexandra McDuffie of Monroe, and critically injured her 8-year-old daughter resulted when she drove her 1995 Honda Civic across the dangerous, unguarded crossing and was struck by a southbound, 75-car, 4,304’ long NS freight train. The train struck the rear quarter panel of McDuffie’s car, spinning it out of control, and casting it 30’ from the impact site, ejecting the driver.
The mother was pronounced dead at the scene, and her daughter was airlifted to St. Vincent’s Mercy Hospital in Toledo, OH, where she was listed in stable condition.
Ridiculous speculation with regard to the involvement of alcohol in the tragedy was immediately put to rest by investigators at the scene.