(Crystal Springs, Mississippi – March 22, 2020)
Two local women died Sunday evening at about 7:30 PM when their Lexus SUV was struck by a Canadian National freight train. The collision occurred at the notoriously deadly and unguarded crossing of Hartley Lane and Canadian National rails on the outskirts of Crystal Springs, MS.
Copiah County Sheriff Byron Swilley identified the driver as Lori D. Jackson, 38, and the passenger as 35-year-old Kenya Brown Wilson. Both women were from Crystal Springs.
The crossing of Hartley Lane has neither flashing lights nor crossing gates. Why the crossing, which allows a daily average of nearly 400 highway vehicles contend with a dozen CN freight and Amtrak passenger trains at maximum speeds of 79 mph, does not have active warning devices is unfathomable.
It is virtually certain that lights and gates could have prevented this collision. Canadian National and Operation Lifesaver know that 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 collisions by as much as 96%.
Sunday’s tragedy marked the 8th accident and the fourth and fifth deaths suffered at the crossing. In addition, five non-deadly injuries have been resultant from the accidents. On June 13 of last year, one person was killed and another hurt in a collision at the crossing. Notable among the CN/Hartley Lane crossing crash history was a May 27, 2008 collision between a garbage truck and an Amtrak passenger train, derailing two cars of the train and hurting 30 of the passengers and 8 of the train crew.