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ABC affiliate, KSPR-33 has reported on more details in the deadly railroad crossing accident that killed Kristy Willis and injured her daughter, Kelsey.

I reported yesterday about this tragic train accident. Again, our thoughts and prayers to out to the family of Kristy Willis and her community.

Tim Bowden, whose children Tiffany Bowden and Carl Bowden survived the train crash by jumping from the pickup truck at the last second, said the train never blew its whistle or sounded a warning.

"It’s a tragedy," he says. "From what my daughter told me, they pulled up on the tracks and nobody had even seen the train. The train didn’t even blow a whistle, didn’t blow a horn or nothing."

Neighbor, Nan Caldwell, confirmed that trains do not always blow their horn or sound a warning at this crossing. "You can’t always here the train. They don’t always blow the whistle," Caldwell said.

Missouri is one of the 10 deadliest states for train crashes and railroad crossing deaths. Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad has been involved in many train-car collisions that have killed many drivers. In October, BNSF 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.

Railroad crossing collisions can have any number of causes. Some of these causes include:

  • Failure 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 should be held accountable for dangers railroad crossings that kill. Is there a different set of rules for railroad companies than for everyone else? If a railroad has a dangerous crossing where large trains speed through, shouldn’t they warn approaching motorists? Why did the railroad never put up a proper warning device?

You can learn more about how to protect yourself at railroad crossings by visiting our railroad safety blog or web site.

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