Friday afternoon just after 3:30 a 2004 Ford Sport Trac was northbound on FM 1909 at Highway 90. This is in Liberty County between Ames and Raywood. The driver John Kolin Allison, 20 who is a funeral attendant disregarded the railroad crossing arms and lights and was struck by a Union Pacific freight train which was westbound. Allison was flown by Life Flight to Hermann Hospital in Houston with head and internal injuries.
His passenger William James Hotaling, 16, of 2724 Newman Street in Liberty was pronounced dead on the scene by Liberty County Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Bobby Radar. He was taken to Allison Funeral Home in Liberty.
The engineer of the train Marcoa Garcia and his conductor Bryant Johnson were uninjured but visibly shaken.
DPS reminds motorists:
An operator commits an offense if the operator drives around, under, or through a crossing gate or a barrier at a railroad crossing while the gate or barrier is closed, being closed, or being opened. (NOTE: CROSSING WITH THE GATE STILL IN MOTION AS THEY OPEN OR THE RED SIGNALS STILL FLASHING IS ILLEGAL)
It is also illegal to stop on the railroad tracks for any reason. If you are waiting at a traffic light the other side of the tracks and a vehicle is already at the intersection. It is illegal for you to stop behind him unless you are at least fifteen feet from the railroad crossing.
A train hits someone in America every 115 minutes, often with fatal results. According to Operation Lifesaver, a national non-profi t organization, nearly 2,000 Americans
are killed and injured at highway/rail grade crossings each year. This number is greater than people dying in commercial and general aviation crashes combined. In 2003, 2,919
collisions occurred at railroad crossings resulting in 324 deaths. (Federal Railroad Administration.)
The majority of collisions between trains and motor vehicles occur when trains are traveling at less than 35 mph. In a quarter of all collisions, the train is already in the crossing when the car hits it. Since nearly two-thirds of all collisions occur during daylight hours, in crossings equipped with automatic warning devices, driver inattention must be the major cause. The average train weighs 12 million pounds, so the weight ratio of a train to a car is about 4,000 to one. This compares to the weight ratio of a car to an aluminum can.
The same thing happens to the car hit by a train as happens to a can run over by a car—it gets squashed. A train traveling at 50 mph, pulling 100 cars, takes one mile to stop,
so in a contest between a car and a train, the train always wins. The motorist in a train/motor vehicle collision is 40 times more likely to die than in a collision between two
motor vehicles. Unfortunately, commercially licensed truck and semi-trailer drivers were involved in 24 percent of train/motor vehicle collisions in 1998. After a tractor-trailer
comes to a stop at a railroad crossing, it takes 27 seconds to cross the track at 2 mph. A train traveling at 41 mph covers 660 feet—in 11 seconds, which is as far up the tracks as
The truck driver can see. Those who drive for a living must practice crossing safety.