(Barrymore, Idaho – December 12, 2012)
A regional spokesman for the Idaho Transportation Department indicated visibility of flashing crossing lights in the daytime may have been a major factor in the Wednesday death of a Jerome, ID man at the crossing of Eastern Idaho Railroad tracks and U.S. Highway 93 where his 2007 Cadillac Escalade was struck by a 26-car EIRR freight train about 2:30 P.M., and was dragged 400 yards west of the non-gated crossing.
The victim, Jess Linch, 64, died at the scene, where his vehicle was virtually destroyed.
Wednesday’s tragedy was the seventh accident at the crossing since 1999, according to Nathan Jerke of the ITD. Jerke noted that the accidents, all of which but one were non-injury incidents, with Wednesday’s representing the lone fatal wreck. The ISD official faulted the difficulty of seeing flashing lights in daylight, as all the accidents cited occurred during daylight hours. Jerke added that, because of the existence of industrial buildings on the east side of the crossing, westbound trains – which was the direction of the train Wednesday –“ can be difficult to see”.
Responders to the tragedy included the Idaho State Police, Jerome County Sheriff’s Office, Jerome City Fire and Rescue, the Jerome Rural Fire District and paramedics from St. Luke’s Hospital in Jerome.
The Eastern Idaho Railroad is one of several short line and regional railroads possessed and operated by the privately-owned Watco transportation group headquartered in Pittsburg, KS.