The train crash that occurred May 15 on Calhoun Dairy Dr., north of Rosepine, has resulted in a larger discussion about train safety and the what changes can be made to prevent similar accidents in the future.
The crossing in question had no crossing arms and no lights to alert drivers of oncoming trains.
A public meeting has been scheduled where citizens can ask questions and talk about how the problem can be corrected, and lives can be saved in the future.
Railroad Investigator Larry Smith is the latest guest to be added to the meetings list of speakers which include local politicians, advocacy groups, state railroad officials and representatives from KCS Railroad.
Smith intends to give a presentation on what needs to be done at the Calhoun Dairy Dr. crossing to ensure accidents like this won’t happen in the future.
Smith has 30 years worth of railroad knowledge, working as both an investigator and a train conductor throughout his life.
The accident, involving a mother and baby who had to be airlifted from a totaled vehicle, is the sixth to occur at that particular crossing in the last three years.
Smith believes, in this case, the railroad should be held accountable. “I had a case in Chicago where there were 32 accidents at a crossing and everyone refused to recognize the problem,” he said. “How many people have to get hurt before something gets done?”
Railroads tend to do the “bare minimum standards” when it comes to safety at crossings, according to Smith. “I’ve been in court with the railroads and heard them make statements stating that it’s easier to pay the victims than it is to actually put in crossing arms,” he said.
Operation Lifesaver will also be in attendance at the meeting. The group is a nonprofit agency that educates the public about train safety.
Smith claims Operation Lifesaver only works to spread the idea that railroad accidents are the fault of the victims.
“Operation Lifesaver receives a million dollars a year from the FRA,” said Smith. “Their goal is to educate the public, yet they always say that it is the victim’s fault. They have no authority to place blame on anyone or to make claims like that.”
The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. on June 5 at the Leesville Municipal Golf Course.