An organization that promotes rail safety education says eight people have been killed in Missouri so far in 2018 in collisions between trains and vehicles or pedestrians.

A Union Pacific train approaches a crossing in Sedalia in 2018 (photo courtesy of Missouri Operation Lifesaver executive director Tim Hull)

A Missourinet reporter rode with a Union Pacific crew on Friday in Jefferson City and observed Jefferson City and Union Pacific Railroad officers issue at least four tickets to drivers who ignored train warning signals. Missouri Operation Lifesaver executive director Tim Hull also rode in the locomotive cab.

“Bringing awareness and getting people to be alert when they get to these railroad crossings, even though if they’re not used very often, that’s when they need to know that if they do hear that whistle or that bell, that they need to pay attention,” Hull says.

Just last week in western Missouri’s Liberty, city employee Cameron Leeds was killed when a train struck a city-owned vehicle he was driving. KSHB-TV reports Leeds was waiting for a westbound train to pass before trying to cross double tracks. That’s when he was struck by an eastbound train.

The number of fatalities in collisions between trains and vehicles or pedestrians has increased in Missouri in 2018, according to Operation Lifesaver.

Hull notes there have already been eight fatalities this year, compared to six during the entire 2017 year. He tells Missourinet a girl in northern Missouri’s Marceline was struck and killed by a train in February while with her dog. Nine-year-old Katawna Clay was killed in the Marceline train incident.

“We try to go into those schools and different civic groups and truck driving schools, school bus drivers and do these educational programs to make them aware and alert of what’s going on,” says Hull.

Hull notes a freight train moving at 55 miles per hour can take about a mile to stop, once the emergency brakes are applied.

Meantime, Union Pacific Railroad officials say some teenagers and photographers are taking families out on railroad tracks to take family pictures.

Union Pacific spokeswoman Lindsey Douglas tells Missourinet it’s illegal to trespass on railroad property.

“Whether it’s a single track, an industrial track, you may not see trains on it very often,” Douglas says. “But it’s still a live, active railroad track. It’s illegal to be out there. It’s just a very unsafe location to do any kind of activity, much less photography.”

Union Pacific Railroad officers teamed up with Jefferson City Police for Friday’s rail safety event.

Operation Lifesaver and Union Pacific also say that if your vehicle ever stalls on railroad tracks, get out and get away from the tracks.

There is an Emergency Notification sign at every crossing, and motorists should call the number provided.

Hull says that if a train is approaching, you should run toward the train but away from the tracks at a 45 degree angle.

That’s because if you run in the direction the train is heading, you could be struck by debris.


Click here to listen to the full interview between Missourinet’s Brian Hauswirth and Missouri Operation Lifesaver executive director Tim Hull and Union Pacific spokeswoman Lindsey Douglas, which was recorded on September 28, 2018 in Jefferson City:

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