Recently, The Daily Herald reported a fatal Illinois car accident that occurred over the 4th of July weekend. In the early hours of the July 3rd, a Carol Stream man and his girlfriend were driving near Itasca when they were stopped by a railroad crossing. Although there was an approaching train, the man disregarded the railroad gates and proceeded to cross the tracks. Unfortunately, the train stuck the passenger side of the vehicle — ultimately dragging it until the train could come to a complete stop.
The female passenger of the vehicle sustained severe internal and external injuries and was airlifted to a local hospital from the scene – regrettably, she died the following day. The driver of the vehicle sustained moderate injuries, including broken bones and bruising, and was also taken to a local hospital. It was soon after discovered that the driver was intoxicated and registered a 0.183 BAC – more than twice the Illinois legal limit of 0.08. Police arrested the man at the hospital and authorities are currently charging him with aggravated DUI causing a death. This type of felony can carry a $25,000 fine, as well as, up to 14 years in prison.
According to the Illinois Commerce Commission, over 50% of vehicle/train collisions occur at crossings with active warning devices (such as blinking lights/gates/bells). Not only that, but if a crash does occur and the train is operating at about 55 mph, it takes the train thousands of feet to come to a complete stop. With the increase in fatalities caused by vehicle/train collisions, the state of Illinois has taken on an initiative called “Operation Lifesaver.” Operation Lifesaver is an awareness program that educations citizens the devastating results that can occur from unsafely crossing railroad tracks.