(Keithville, Louisiana – August 10, 2012)
An as-yet unidentified 38-year-old truck driver hauling a Hepkmann Water Resources tank trailer loaded with salt water was injured Friday morning at about 9:20 A.M. as he crossed the dangerous, unguarded crossing of Booker Road and Union Pacific Railroad tracks. He was hit by a westbound UPRR train when traffic in front of him stopped and left his trailer fouling the crossing.
The 18-wheeler operator said he saw the train but thought it was stopped, something he would have known had the crossing, which is protected only by passive railroad crossbuck signs, been equipped with active warning devices such as flashing lights, bells and crossing gates, which have been proven over 90% effective in stopping accidents at railroad crossings.
The train’s locomotive derailed but continued to move forward for nearly a quarter of a mile, tearing up the track as it went along and finally came to a halt.
Both the locomotive engineer and the conductor of the train received bumps, bruises and minor injuries and both were treated at the scene by EMT responders. The semi driver was taken to Willis Knighton Hospital South for treatment of what were described as non-life-threatening injuries.
A similar collision occurred July 15 at another unguarded crossing just two miles north of Friday’s location, and area residents are becoming concerned about train accidents in southern Caddo Parish.
“Somebody is going to get killed in a matter of time,” predicted area resident Joey Chauvin, who lives just off Vardaman Road, which parallels Union Pacific tracks through the area. “A stop sign or something – somebody needs to do something,” pled Chauvin, who has now witnessed three train accidents in the past year.
Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Dept. officers were conducting the investigation.