(Waxahachie, Texas – March 23, 2013)
The number of tragic statistics recorded at the non-gated crossing of North Elm Street/US Highway 77 and Union Pacific Railroad tracks just north of downtown Waxahachie, TX increased Saturday afternoon just after 1:00 P.M. when a black Ford Focus with three adult occupants attempted to cross the UPRR tracks northbound and was struck by an eastbound UP freight train, resulting in serious injury to the male driver and one of the two female occupants.
The train, one of a daily average of 18 trains that cross North Elm Street at speeds as high as 60 mph, hit the car’s driver’s side, thus inflicting the greatest injuries to the driver and the woman seated behind him. Amber Hunt, who was in the front passenger seat, was uninjured and was able to provide clear statements on the aspects of the accident to Waxahachie Police and Fire personnel who responded to the call for help.
“I honestly do not remember hearing the horn or anything from the train,” recalled Hunt, who said the driver was her fiancÃ©e and the passenger was her sister, all who were on an errand to pick up balloons for her daughter’s birthday party. “All I remember is being hit by the train and the car spinning around,” she continued.
Hunt said her only thought, once the vehicle came to rest, was “I hope they’re not dead.”
“At first, neither of them were moving or anything,” she added. “I thought they were both dead. And then I could see they were breathing.”
Emergency personnel were forced to extricate the victims from the vehicle’s wreckage, sending the driver to Parkland Hospital in Dallas, TX, and Hunt’s sister to Baylor Medical Center in Dallas, TX, both via helicopter.
The North Elm/UPRR crossing has a dangerous history, and is not only obscured by heavy tree growth but has no crossing gates to supplement its cantilever flashing signal lights. Saturday’s accident was the seventh in FRA recording history, the previous six having resulted in one fatality and two non-fatal injuries.