(Sturgis, South Dakota – January 23, 2020)
An as-yet-unidentified motorist driving a Jeep was injured Wednesday afternoon at about 6:00 PM at the dangerous and unguarded road/rail crossing of Ball Park Road and RCP&E tracks in Sturgis, SD. The jeep was struck at the crossing by a Rapid City, Pierre & Eastern Railway freight train. The motorist was taken to Monument Health Sturgis Hospital for treatment of his undisclosed injuries.
The victim, a male, said that he “didn’t see or hear the train coming” as he attempted to cross the rails. The collision represented the sixth accident and third injury to be suffered at the crossing. Yet there are no active warning devices, such as lights and gates, at this unguarded crossing. The regional RCP&E Railway, headquartered in Rapid City, SD, runs a daily average of two freight trains across Ball Park Road at a maximum speed of 30 mph. Meanwhile, a daily average of 540 highway vehicles traverses the crossing as well.
It is virtually certain that lights and gates could have prevented this collision and the four before it. RCP&E Railway 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 collisions by as much as 96%.
The RCP&E operates a 479-mile-long rail system serving four upper Midwestern states is one of 119 railroads worldwide owned or leased by the massive Genesee & Wyoming Corporation, which was sold, en masse, to the financial management firms of Brookfield Infrastructure and GIC on December 30, 2019.