ELTON, LA — On February 19, 2013, at 7:37 a.m., Louisiana State Police Troop D responded to a crash involving a train and an SUV on Liberty Cemetery Road near U.S. Highway 190 in Jefferson Davis Parish that sent three people to the hospital.
The preliminary investigation revealed that a 2000 Ford Expedition SUV was traveling north on Liberty Cemetery Road just north of U.S. 190 when the driver, Pamela Thomas Thompson, 32, of Elton, drove into the path of a westbound Union Pacific freight train. Thompson then placed the vehicle in reverse and attempted to back out of the path of the train. The SUV was struck by the train near the passenger side front tire and was pushed off the track.
The SUV traveled 104 feet on a grassy area south of the railroad track before stopping. The train traveled approximately 4/10 of a mile after impact.
Thompson and a passenger in the vehicle, Jennifer Gentry of Elton, 26, were transported to area hospitals with moderate injuries. A 3-year-old child in the vehicle was transported to an area hospital with minor injuries. No one in the vehicle was restrained.
A toxicology sample was obtained from Thompson for analysis. Thompson was charged with failure to yield to a train, failure to wear a seatbelt, and no child restraint. The crash remains under investigation.
The crash occurred at a crossing with no active warning devices (flashing lights, gates, or bells). However, a railroad crossing sign and yield sign were present at the crossing. Louisiana state law requires motorists to yield the right of way to trains whether active warning devices are present or not.
In 2011, 9 people died and 68 were injured in train-vehicle collisions in Louisiana. Trains can stop but they can’t stop quickly. That is why it is so important to look and listen for trains when approaching a railroad crossing and to always yield the right of way to trains.
For more information about rail safety or to request a free safety presentation, please visit the Louisiana Operation Lifesaver web site at www.laoperationlifesaver.org or contact your nearest Louisiana State Police Public Information Officer.