(Star, Mississippi – April 9, 2014)
A Canadian National freight train bound for Jackson, MS struck and demolished an 18-wheeler tanker loaded with carbon dioxide last Wednesday evening at about 7:00 P.M. at the dangerous and unguarded crossing of Andrew Jackson Circle, near Dixie Road. Police officers say another similar accident occurred about four years ago, in the community of Star, MS. The crash left the loaded tank trailer spewing the pressurized refrigerant for hours after the collision, which also resulted in the driver being seriously injured and transported to the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson for treatment.
The same crossing was the site of another CN/CO2 tank truck collision on July 26, 2009, with far worse results. That time, tank truck driver was killed and both train crewmen were injured when the tank exploded upon impact with the train.
According to Federal Railroad Administration records, a daily average of eight CNR trains cross at that triple-tracked grade crossing at a top allowable speed of 49 mph. The unguarded public crossing has also experienced three earlier, non-injury collisions, yet the crossing does not have any active warning devices, such as lights and gates. It is virtually certain that lights and gates would have prevented this incident. Both Canadian National and Operation Lifesaver know 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%.
According to Rankin County Emergency Operations Coordinator Brett Ishee, “The driver said he looked up, saw the train coming and couldn’t get across the tracks quick enough” to avoid the collision.