Railroad News

Three Iowans Killed by Coal Train at Dangerous, Unguarded BNSF Crossing

(Danville, Iowa – April 13, 2019)

Three Burlington, IA women were tragically killed when an eastbound BNSF coal train crushed their 2017 Chevrolet Trax.  The collision occurred about 11:30 AM, CDT Saturday morning as a vehicle attempted to traverse a dangerous and unguarded private crossing just east of Danville, IA. The private, dangerous and unguarded crossing served a residence near Danville’s Roosevelt Street across from Waters Park just east of the Des Moines County town.

The driver, Amber Curry, 29, and her passengers, Laura Burch, 27, and Ann Smith, 26, all of Burlington, IA, were likely never aware of the train’s approach.  Federal Railroad Administration grade crossing safety rules do not require locomotive engineers to sound engine horns at crossings designated as private.  At this time, it is unknown if the train ever gave a timely audible warning of its approach.

 “The private crossing was not equipped with lights to indicate a train was approaching, or cross arms to prevent crossing with a train coming,” reported a news writer for Burlington’s The Hawk Eye newspaper.

The crossing is not equipped with any low-cost warning devices or lights and gates to warn motorists of the daily average of 42 BNSF freight and Amtrak passenger trains that cross double BNSF tracks at a maximum speed of 79 mph. The Hawk Eye went on to chronicle other accidents in and around Danville since 2001, stating that “Railroad crossings in the Danville area have a deadly history.”

The tragedy is being investigated by the Iowa State Patrol with assistance from the Des Moines County Sheriff’s Office.