(Byram, Mississippi – July 16, 2021)
Two men died Thursday evening when their semi-truck was struck by a high-speed Amtrak passenger train at a railroad crossing just south of the Jackson Amtrak station. The collision occurred at an unguarded and dangerous CN railroad crossing near the Jackson Motor Speedway. The men killed in the collision were identified as James Creel of Lake, Mississippi and Scott Hartsock of Florida.
According to BNSF submitted records, a daily average of twelve trains travel over this crossing at speeds up to 79 mph. There have also been five prior collisions at this unguarded racetrack crossing. The victims likely never heard the oncoming high-speed Amtrak train because CN and Amtrak rules do not require train horns to be consistently blown at private crossings, such as this one. To make matters worse, the Byram Policy Chief, David Errington, told local media that the line of sight at this crossing is minimal in either direction. Thus, the victims likely never heard or saw the high-speed train until it was too late to avoid the collision.
It is virtually certain that if CN would have installed lights and gates, this collision and the five before it could have been prevented. CN, Amtrak, 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%.