(Hayti, Missouri – August 14, 2020)
Two Missouri men were killed at about 5:41 PM, CDT Friday afternoon when their Chevrolet Impala was struck by a BNSF freight train. The collision occurred at the very dangerous and unguarded grade crossing of Gettings Lane and BNSF tracks in Hayti, MO. The vehicle was dragged an estimated 50 yards by the train before it was dislodged upside-down into a deep trackside ditch with both occupants still inside the car. The victims were identified by Missouri State Highway Patrol sources as the driver, Titusan Townsend, 52, of Columbia, MO, and his passenger, Ricky Tillman, 51, of Kennett, MO.
This collision was not the first fatality at this dangerous crossing. One other motorist has been killed and there have been multiple other injury related collisions at this crossing. On a daily basis, four BNSF freight trains cross the Gettings Lane crossing at a maximum allowable speed of 55 mph. According to records submitted by BNSF to the Federal Railroad Administration, the crash was the sixth train/motor vehicle collision and the second and third fatalities suffered to go along with three non-fatal injuries at the crossing.
Notwithstanding the high collision rate, there are no active warning devices, such as lights and gates, installed at this crossing. It is virtually certain that lights and gates could have prevented this collision and the five before it. BNSF 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%.