(Longstreet, Louisiana – February 16, 2015)
Two people died and a third was taken by ground ambulance to a Shreveport, LA hospital and admitted in critical condition after the small truck they were in was struck by a Union Pacific freight train at a dangerous and unguarded private crossing leading to an oil field near Longstreet, LA Monday afternoon just before 1:00 P.M., CST.
The crossing, which is just off Louisiana Highway 5 and which closely parallels UPRR tracks through Desoto Parish, is slightly obscured by trees, and is not equipped with any active warning devices, such as lights and gates. According to Federal Railroad Administration files, the crossing accommodates 10 Union Pacific and Burlington Northern Santa Fe trains daily at a top allowable speed of 49 mph.
It is virtually certain that if equipped with lights and gates this accident would not have happened. Both Union Pacific 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 accidents by as much as 96%.
Although a LifeAir helicopter was ordered to transport the injured person for treatment, the rapidly deteriorating weather in Louisiana made the use of the chopper impossible.
Louisiana State Police troopers and officers of the Desoto Parish Sheriff’s Dept. were investigating the tragedy with assistance from Union Pacific Railroad Police.