(St Louis County, Missouri – February 22, 2016)
Two as-yet unidentified men were being treated in a south St. Louis, MO County hospital Monday after their car was struck and heavily damaged by the St. Louis-bound Amtrak’s “Texas Eagle” early Monday morning at about 6:00 A.M., CST at the dangerous and completely unguarded crossing of Bussen Quarry Road and Union Pacific Railroad tracks.
St. Louis County Police Dept. Sgt. Brian Schellman said he did not know the nature or extent of the injuries, he believed them to be non-life-threatening, even though one victim’s condition was listed by the unidentified hospital as “critical”. Mehlville Fire Protection District Chief Brian Hendricks, however, said that “One (of the victims) self-extricated, meaning he climbed out. The other was trapped and crews were able to extricate him from the vehicle.”
The Fire Chief added that the train was traveling at between 35 and 40 mph, and Federal Railroad Administration records show that maximum allowable train speeds for the single track corridor are 60 mph.
Although Bussen Quarry security officers refused ground access to the scene by the news media, helicopter videos of the scene were valuable in determining post-crash motor vehicle condition, train direction, crossing placement and other articles critical in making proper evaluation of responsibility in the near-fatal accident. It was not known if the victims were Bussen Quarry employees or customers.
The physical location of the facility was listed as the 4100 block of Bussen Road in south St. Louis County, MO, and was just south of the Jefferson Barracks Bridge which carries Interstate Highway 255 across the Mississippi River into Illinois.
Despite the high speed passenger trains that cross over this crossing, as previously mentioned, this crossing lacks any form of active warning devices, such as lights and gates. It is virtually certain that if this crossing was equipped with lights and gates, this tragedy 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%.