More than two dozen people aboard an Amtrak train traveling north through Indiana to Chicago sustained non-life-threatening injuries when a semi driver caused a crash by trying to beat the train through a crossing in the town of Reynolds. The accident occurred at around 8:20 am on October 28, 2014, and the at-fault commercial trucker escaped injury. A total of eight passengers and Amtrak crew members required hospital treatment for their wounds.
The grade crossing near the intersection of U.S. 421 and White County Road 200 North, a short distance from Lafayette, does not have gates that lower automatically when a train approaches. The trucker told police that he did see the train before driving onto the tracks, but he moved forward regardless because he thought he had enough time to clear the crossing.
Misjudging the distance and speed of trains causes hundreds of wrecks each year. Many of the crashes result in deaths, usually to the pedestrians and people in the cars and trucks who believed they could move faster than the onrushing locomotive. Several of these foolhardy attempts to outrace a train also injure engineers, conductors and rail passengers. Avoiding such accidents is as simple as stopping, looking, listening and yielding right of way, but even warning lights, prominent signage and crossing gates are often not enough to get individuals to take these lifesaving actions.
Stated as simply and clearly as possible, trains cannot slow down or stop quickly. The Amtrak crew involved in the Indiana crash did apply the brakes as soon as they recognized the danger posed by the negligent and reckless truck driver. Following the inevitable collision, according to the Indianapolis Star, the locomotive and three rail cars it was pulling came to rest more than 500 feet past the crossing.
As a Carolina personal injury lawyer who has nearly three decades of experience helping victims recover financially following train accidents, I know that anyone who tries to beat a train risks far more than their own health and lives. The speed and power of trains must be respected, lest tragedy result.