A respected pastor and his wife were killed on Sunday morning at an unguarded crossing in Lemoine, LA. The crossing is not outfitted with any safety devices – no lights or gates. Only a crossbuck sign exists to mark the location of the crossing. The oncoming train hit the car on the passenger’s side, causing the car to burst into flames and pushing it nearly 200 feet. The driver and passenger were both killed immediately upon impact.
What makes an already heartbreaking and alarming tragedy all the worse is that the driver was known in the community for speaking out about the dangers of unprotected crossings. Initial inspection into the cause of the accident has revealed that he likely was completely unaware that a train was approaching.
The heartbroken members of the small community are now planning to install lights and gates at this crossing immediately. They say that their pastor would have eagerly wanted to do the same.
Of course, they’ll need the railroad to cooperate with them on that one. Will the railroad cooperate? If history has anything to teach, they might stall and/or ignore the problem for even longer. It should not take a tragedy to make a life-threatening crossing reasonably safe. Yet sometimes even a tragedy will not persuade a railroad company.
Which is all the more reason that more public outcry is needed. If a respected member of the community well aware of the dangers of railroad crossings could fall victim to a deadly crossing accident, perhaps the problem isn’t a lack of educating the public on railroad crossing safety (as Operation Lifesaver preaches) – but unprotected and improperly maintained railroad crossings.