(Mount Pleasant, Texas – March 24, 2012)
A 22-year-old female motorist, headed for the wedding shower of two friends, was seriously injured Saturday evening about 6:30 P.M. when she was struck by a Union Pacific freight train at the dangerous, unguarded crossing of Airport Road and UPRR tracks in Mount Pleasant, TX.
Lindsey Lehman’s Chevrolet Trailblazer was struck in the rear portion of the SUV by the train, was carried nearly 100 yards down the track , spun 180 degrees, and flung alongside the track. The quick actions of two other shower guests, Earmond McAuley and Trevor Lousberg, who witnessed the accident and ran to the victim’s aid through extricating her from the wrecked vehicle just before it burst into flames, probably saved her life.
Even though 22 trains daily cross the intersection at speeds of up to 50 mph, the crossing relies solely upon standard railroad crossbuck signs and lacks any form of automatic protection (lights, bells or gates) whatsoever to warn motorists of approaching trains.
News media photos of the crossing in the direction of the victim’s westbound travel showed a blinding sun that would have seriously hampered her ability to see the approaching train.
The victim was first rushed to Titus Regional Medical Center in Mount Pleasant, but her injuries were too severe, and she was then airlifted by helicopter to the East Texas Medical Center in Tyler, where she was admitted for treatment of severe to critical head injuries. She was still hospitalized in critical condition the first part of this week.
Mount Pleasant police, fire and EMS units all responded to the accident, while investigation into the tragedy was begun by Mount Pleasant Police Officer Brian Andrews, MPPD’s accident reconstruction expert. Meanwhile, UPRR Investigator Derin Archer will conduct his own, independent investigation into the accident