(Rushville, Indiana – August 16, 2013)
Two Indiana men were seriously injured at the crossing of Perkins Street and CSX railroad tracks in Rushville, IN Friday afternoon at about 3:00 P.M. when their pickup truck was struck by a westbound CSX freight train. In a strange twist to this sad incident, however, according to the railroad-supplied information contained in the Federal Railroad Administration’s “Crossing Inventory of Information,” which the railroad certified the information therein as correct – the train didn’t exist.
Thomas Alexander, 27, and Anthony Huffman, 19, both had to be extricated from the wreckage of the truck, which the force of the collision with the train threw against the side of a nearby residence, causing some damage to the house at 401 North Perkins Street and totaling the vehicle. Alexander, the driver, and his passenger were both first taken to Rush Memorial Hospital, but the serious nature of their injuries required that both be airlifted to St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis, IN, where Alexander was admitted in serious condition and Huffman was hospitalized in critical condition. Rushville Police said that the driver disregarded the flashing crossing lights and drove across the non-gated crossing, where all railroad warning equipment was activated and functioning at the time of the collision.
Yet, according to the information on the Perkins Street crossing, as well as all the CSX crossings in Rushville, only a single train passes through town daily, and that is allegedly an Amtrak passenger train which operates at a maximum speed of 35 mph. An accident report, also filed by CSX, says the accident Friday was preceded by another car/train injury accident occurring on January 29, 2012, when a 90-car freight (once again, not Amtrak) train being pulled by two CSX locomotives at 30 mph struck the auto and caused injury to the lone occupant, the driver. Meanwhile, the daily Amtrak passenger train – which obviously only operates every other day, as there otherwise would be two Amtrak train movements across the CSX/Perkins Street intersection daily – have yet to hit anybody, leaving that up to the unknown number of phantom freight trains which do not collide with the dozen school buses and 1,545 highway vehicles which reportedly cross the CSX tracks each day.
As previously mentioned, this incident happened at a dangerous, non-gated crossing. It is virtually certain that lights and gates would have prevented this incident. Both CSX 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%.