(Sun Prairie, Wisconsin – November 12, 2015)
Two male teens barely escaped death about 9:15 P.M. Thursday night when the Ford Explorer SUV a 17 year old boy was driving, with a 15-year-old male as his passenger, skidded, struck a ditch and collided with a Wisconsin & Southern freight train at the dangerous and unguarded crossing of Twin Lane Road near the town of Sun Prairie, WI.
The driver apparently saw the train too late to stop, swerved and rolled the vehicle into a nearby ditch in an attempt to avoid the train. Unfortunately their vehicle still collided with the train.
The crossing the W&S/Twin Lane Road road/rail intersection is not protected by any active warning devices, such as lights and gates. It is virtually certain that if this crossing was equipped with lights and gates, this accident would not have happened. Both Wisconsin & Southern 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%.
The train, one of two that use the crossing daily at a top speed of 10 mph, stopped with its cars blocking the crossing and the ill-fated vehicle lying against the side of one of its freight cars. Seeing the damage done to the SUV through news media reports, the fact that neither occupant was seriously injured was miraculous. The teens’ use of seat belts was credited for their survival.