(Red Banks, Mississippi – December 4, 2018)
Two residents of Memphis, TN were killed and three of their traveling companions seriously injured after the van they were riding in was struck by a southbound BNSF freight train. The collision occurred Tuesday afternoon at the non-gated, angular and vegetation-obscured crossing of North Red Banks Road. The crossing is near the Marshall County, MS community of Red Banks.
All five victims were contract workers of American Veterans Moving Company and working out of Memphis. They had just completed the work of packing the items of a house for a move.
Charity Mull and Brandon Mosley, both 27, were killed as a result of the violent collision. The other three occupants of the van were airlifted to Memphis hospitals, where they were all listed in critical condition. It required the use of two flatbed wreckers to haul the pieces of the van from the scene.
Although the crossing has lights, it’s unclear if they were properly operating at the time of the collision. In addition, the absence of crossing gates was noted by numerous reporters and those who live near the hazardous, angled and tree-lined crossing. Fox 13 News Reporter Winnie Wright noted that “Fox 13 also noticed no crossing gates are at the railroad crossing.”
In interviewing people who live near, WMC-TV Reporter Janice Broach talked to Bryan Bonnette of Red Banks. Mr. Bonnette said “I don’t understand why there are no arms to stop the traffic. I don’t know why it has to cost peoples’ lives (for there) to be better safety on the track.”. However, Reporter Andrew Ellison of WREG News Channel 3 in Memphis uncovered evidence that MDOT had approved the installation of crossing gates in October, but BNSF had not yet gotten them up.
Jonathan Strausser, owner of the moving company, was very critical of the lack of the already approved gates. “All railroad crossings need drop arms (gates), no matter what” he told WREG. “No excuses! “ said the highly emotional employer.
According to the railroad crossing website of the Federal Railroad Administration, the crossing is used daily by an average of 20 BNSF freight trains at maximum allowable speeds as high as 60 mph.