(Harviell, Missouri – September 21, 2013)
A man and a woman, both residents of Poplar Bluff, MO, were seriously injured Saturday afternoon just prior to 1:30 P.M., when the pickup truck they were in was struck and destroyed at the dangerous and unguarded intersection of Union Pacific Railroad tracks and Butler County Road 321 near Harviell, MO.
Dustin G. Putnam, 25, the driver, and his passenger, Tricia Ellis, 24, were both thrown from the vehicle upon impact with the train. Both were airlifted to hospitals for treatment of multiple injuries, Putnam to Elvis Presley Trauma Center in Memphis, TN, and Ellis to St. Francis Medical Center in Cape Girardeau, MO.
The crossing, which accommodates a daily average of 25 trains, including Amtrak passenger trains, at a top allowable speed of 75 mph, has no active protective devices, such as flashing lights and gates. It is virtually certain that lights and gates would have prevented this incident. Both Union Pacific Railroad and Operation Lifesaver know 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 can gates offer the ability to drastically reduce the number of vehicle/train accidents by as much as 96%.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol investigated the accident.