A local mother and her two young children were killed Monday at a dangerous railroad crossing.
Investigators are trying to figure out why the family was driving across the tracks as a train came barreling toward them.
The wreck occurred at an intersection that has no crossing arms.
Loved ones said more safety measures could have prevented the crash.
"It’d be wonderful if they do put crossing guards up at places like this. Flashing lights would give people more warning," family friend Elizabeth Miller said.
The train was heading from Miami to New York.
Amtrak estimates it was traveling around 70 mph.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to family of this mother and her children. The horrific crashes shed light on what has become a wide spread problem across the country. Railroad companies need to do more to make sure their crossing are guarded and safe so that needless deaths like this do not keep happening.
Fox 4 News in Kansas City recently did a feature story on one of the thousands of unguarded crossings in the state of Missouri. A rural Missouri town has literally begged for Union Pacific to put up lights and gates at a dangerous crossing, but the railroad company has refused to do so.
These train-vehicle collisions are a tragic reminder of how dangerous railroad crossings can be. In the last 10 years, there have been more than 30,000 railroad crossing accidents and more than 3,600 train accident deaths.
These train accidents can have many causes, including:
Failure of the railroad company to install proper warnings, such as lights, alarms (crossing bells) or a functioning crossing gate
Defective warnings — inoperable lights, bells or gates
Improper sight lines that prevent a vehicle’s driver from seeing an oncoming train until it is too late
Failure to properly maintain the crossing — such as allowing overgrown trees, vegetation and other foliage to obstruct or hide an oncoming train
Improperly parking a train at or near a crossing — this not only hides an oncoming train from view, but gives motorists a false sense of safety in seeing a parked train at the crossing
Failure to sound the train’s horn or whistle at or near the crossing
Other negligence that may appear on the train’s data recorder or video recorder
Railroad companies need to do more to prevent these tragic collisions that kill. Unfortunately, some railroad companies attempt to cover up their role in causing these tragedies rather than implement safety improvements to prevent them.
In October, Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad was hit with a $4 million penalty — on top of a $21.6 million jury verdict — because of its "staggering" pattern of misconduct that included destroying evidence in an attempted cover-up of its role in the deaths of four young people who were killed at one of its railroad crossings.
The Court found that BNSF destroyed some evidence, fabricated other evidence, interfered with the investigation and purposefully lied and advanced misleading facts in order to conceal the truth.
Railroad companies should be held accountable for dangerous railroad crossings that injure and kill. Is there a different set of rules for railroad companies than for everyone else? Railroad companies need to stop putting profits in front safety. How many people have to die before the railroads finally accept responsibility for protecting their own railroad crossings?
Brett Emison is currently a partner at Langdon & Emison, a firm dedicated to helping injured victims across the country from their primary office near Kansas City. Mainly focusing on catastrophic injury and death cases as well as complex mass tort and dangerous drug cases, Mr. Emison often deals with automotive defects, automobile crashes, railroad crossing accidents (train accidents), trucking accidents, dangerous and defective drugs, defective medical devices.