Many of the worst accidents involving trains and other vehicles occur on grade crossings. I was saddened to read about a grade crossing crash in Biloxi, Mississippi this week when four people were killed when a train struck a bus.
Officials in the southern state said a bus carrying senior citizens became stuck on tracks where it was hit by a freight train. The bus was carrying older people on a casino outing.
Biloxi is a casino town on the Gulf Coast. The charter bus was carrying 48 people. Initial reports said seven passengers received critical injuries. Officials said 41 people were taken to area hospitals including one who was airlifted from the scene.
The circumstances of this grade crossing crash alarm me as a railroad accident lawyer.
The Texas-based charter bus was traveling north on Main Street when it became stuck crossing the tracks. It was hit by an eastbound CSX train around 2:13 p.m. Tuesday.
A report on CNN cited a motorist who said it appeared the bus bottomed out as the driver attempted to cross the tracks. Witnesses said the driver appeared to be trying to back the bus up. Some of the passengers got out of the bus before the train hit it. CNN reported there is a low ground clearance sign on each side of the tracks.
Although the crossing has flashing lights and crossing gates, a previous incident at the same crossing points to potential dangers with its design.
Two months ago, a Pepsi truck which was also traveling north attempted to cross the tracks at the same grade crossing and became stuck at the crossing. No injuries were reported in that incident.
When a Grade Crossing Crash Proved Deadly
One of the most serious grade crossing crashes in recent years involved a Metro-North train that hit an SUV in White Plains, New York, killing six people.
The SUV was stopped on the tracks. The victims included the driver of the vehicle. A report from the National Transportation Safety Board found the SUV driver stopped on the tracks before the barriers came down. One of the barriers hit the back of her car. She got out of the SUV. She got back in and tried to move it when she was hit by the Metro-North passenger train.
A rail punctured the first car in the train and the impact of the collision caused a fire and an explosion.
This grade crossing crash made headlines but every year dozens of crashes occur on railroad crossings. In any given year, as many as 300 people die in railroad crossing accidents.
A railroad can be held liable for design faults and other defects at a grade crossing like poor visibility. In recent years we have also seen a series of crashes involving tour buses in which bus operators can be held liable for driver errors.
If you have been hurt in a grade crossing crash or lost a loved one, you may have grounds to make a claim. Call us at (757) 455-0077.