Luling area railroad accident highlights need for driver caution near railroad crossings

St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office (SCPSO) reported a local driver was involved in an automobile-railroad accident on the evening of Nov. 5 at the Ashton Plantation railroad crossing in Luling.

As a result of the accident, railroad crossings at Ashton Plantation, Gassen Street, Paul Maillard Road, Sugarhouse Road and Queenie Drier were temporarily blocked while the train and tracks were inspected for damage.

SCPSO sources said the accident was one of around five such railroad crossing accidents St. Charles Parish deputies handle each year, a sound reminder for local drivers to exert extreme caution around railroad crossings.

“A train can pass at any time, do not ignore active warning signs,” Amanda Pertuis, SCPSO Public Information Officer, said. “You should never go around crossing arms that are down or cross when lights are flashing, even if you do not see a train – always expect a train.”

St. Charles Parish is home to around 84 miles of railroad tracks crisscrossing the parish, used by around five different railroad firms.

Sources at the SCPSO said the Ashton Plantation railroad crossing accident occurred Nov. 5 after the vehicle approached the railroad crossing when lights were flashing and crossing arms were down. The driver did not see a train, went around the crossing arms, and was struck by an oncoming train on the vehicle’s rear driver’s area.

“The driver was checked out by St. Charles Parish paramedics but was not transported to the hospital,” Pertuis said. “The vehicle had disabling damage and was towed by a local towing company.”

The train involved had no damage, and no passenger injuries aboard the train were reported.

The driver on Nov. 5 was fortunate to leave the accident short of a vehicle but still alive. Many drivers involved in railroad crossing accidents don’t always share the same fate.

According to the DOTD, around 95 percent of all rail-related deaths in the United States involve either drivers trying to beat a train or people trespassing on railroad tracks. Data released by the Federal Railroad Administration indicates Louisiana ranks fourth in the nation for such highway-rail grade crossing fatalities.

“It is illegal to go around lowered crossing arms, and violators will be cited and fined for their deliberate negligence,” Pertuis said. “Please drive safely and obey all traffic signals.”


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