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Elderly Couple Seriously Injured in Collision With Stopped Train at Unmarked Crossing in Versailles, KY

A 72-year-old man and his 78-year-old wife were taken to the hospital with serious injuries after they drove their pickup truck into a train being operated by the RJ Corman freight company that had stopped on CSX-owned tracks in Versailles, Kentucky (KY). The accident occurred on the U.S. 60 Bypass around the city just after 2 am on December 9, 2011. Police investigating the crash scene told the Lexington Herald-Leader that the crossing where the accident took place has no gates and that signal lights that warn drivers of an approaching or present train were not working.


View a larger map of the area where a pickup truck collided with a train at an unmarked grade crossing in Versilles, KY.

The injured man delvers newspaper and was traveling to Lexington to collect his daily allotment of papers, according to WKYT-TV 27. The television station also reported that while the state's transportation department is responsible for posting and maintaining signage such as stop signs and railroad crossing signs around grade crossings, railroad operators and track owners have the responsibility for putting up gates and lights and ensuring that those warnings and barriers work properly.

No officials from the police or the railroads have offered explanations for why the signals were not tur
ned on at the crossing where the wreck occurred.

This accident provides a reminder -- as too many others have over the years -- that unmarked and improperly controlled railroad crossings pose deadly dangers to drivers and passengers in vehicles that share road and highway intersections with trains. At the same time, collisions at crossings put engineers, conductors and brakemen crewing trains at risk for injuries and death.

My Virginia and Carolina personal injury attorney colleagues and I specialize in representing people hurt in railroad accidents. We have written time and again about the need to improve grade crossing safety by putting in automated gates, improving warning lights and, for a gold standard, getting rid of grade crossings altogether by putting in train overpasses or underpasses. At a minimum, no signal lights at a crossing should ever be switched off or, if malfunctioning, allowed to go unrepaired.

I wish the couple injured in Kentucky speedy recoveries. I also want RJ Corman and CSX to be held accountable for permitting the danger to exist.

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