A Continuing Epidemic of Stupidity.
It keeps on happening. People drive around the gates, past the flashing lights and clanging bells, and into the path of a locomotive.
The most recent incident was Friday and involved a semi-trailer truck loaded with 70,000 pounds of bacon. It was struck by the northbound Texas Eagle in Wilmington, Illinois.
Apparently there were are few minor injuries, but of course the dumb-ass truck driver escaped unhurt, which was more than he deserved. The Amtrak locomotive was damaged, however, and the passengers were bused the remaining 250 miles into Chicago.
According to a veteran NARP member, Amtrak always files suit in the wake of these incidents, but the insurance—if there is any—rarely covers the railroad’s actual losses.
A few days ago, Amtrak’s Silver Star, en route from Miami to New York, struck a car near Jacksonville, Florida. Once again, the driver drove around the lowered gates. The impact literally tore the car in half but, miraculously, only one of the three people in the car sustained a minor injury. A pregnant woman seated in the back seat was thrown clear and was not injured. Neither was her boy friend, the dumb-ass driver.
It’s really impossible for me to feel anything but frustration and even anger at the idiots who try to beat trains at a grade crossing. All you can hope for is that no one on the train is hurt or killed.
Often overlooked, however, is the toll these events take on the engineers. Intellectually, they all know that there was nothing they could have done … that it was impossible to stop the train in time to avoid the collision. Some are able to shrug it off; others have to deal with it over time. But a few find it impossible to get back into a locomotive cab.
All that inconvenience and expense and grief and pain because somebody couldn’t wait less than one minute for a train to pass. You just can’t fix stupid, can you.