(Tacoma, Washington – September 19, 2017)
A Port of Tacoma longshoreman, on his way home to his nine-year-old daughter, died Tuesday morning about 2:45 A.M, PDT when his car collided with an intermodal double stack train operating at 5 mph, at the dangerous and unguarded crossing of Lincoln Avenue near Milwaukee Way in Tacoma, WA.
The victim, Wesley Evans, 28, of Spanaway, WA, likely never saw nor heard the 35-car, 7035-foot –long train prior to impact. The train is operated by Tacoma Rail, which is owned by the Public Utilities Commission of the City of Tacoma. The collision point between the victim’s Acura and the train came at mid-train where some cars had reflective tape, although none was apparent in news media film and photos taken at the scene. In addition, the low-slung nature of double-stack cars which carry no containers make for a virtual unseeable situation without reflective tape.
The Washington State Transportation and Utilities Commission said there had been two previous collisions, injuring one truck driver, at the crossing where the maximum speed limit for trains is 10 mph.
“There are no flashing lights or railroad crossing arms at the spot where Lincoln Avenue crosses the train tracks,” reported Tacoma News-Tribune staff writer Stacia Glenn, adding that “Investigators believe (the driver) did not see the moving train at Lincoln Avenue and Milwaukee Way because it was dark and there are no flashing lights.”
KIRO-TV, Channel 7 in Seattle, WA, was far dissatisfied with excuses for the lack of active warning signals at the crossing, as “Tacoma Police Officer Shelbie Boyd told the stations investigative reporting staff that “It’s not unusual to have no flashing lights or crossing arms at rail crossings in the area, though it’s a busy train traffic zone…”
A fellow Local 23 longshoreman, Robert Ross, was among drivers who frequently cross the tracks on Lincoln Avenue and talked to Channel 7, saying that it is very hard to see the trains crossing in the dark. “When you’re getting off late at night, you don’t see it,” adding that “You don’t see it (the trains) until you’re up on it (the tracks).”