NATALBANY, LA (WAFB) - Two Tickfaw residents are dead after an Amtrak train struck a vehicle in Natalbany Tuesday afternoon, says Louisiana State Police.
The incident occurred on LA 1064 near the intersection of Oak St. Colton Williams and Justin B. Lang, both 23-years-old, were killed.
LSP responded to the crash just before 2 p.m. on December 13. The initial investigation revealed Williams was driving a 2001 Mazda Protege eastbound on LA 1064. As he was approaching the crossing, arms were down and the red lights were flashing.
For reasons still under investigation, officials say Williams drove around the crossing arms directly into the path of a southbound Amtrak passenger train. The train struck the left side of the vehicle, pushing it nearly 125 yards south of the crossing.
Both Williams and Lang were severely injured and pronounced dead on the scene by the Tangipahoa Parish Coroner's Office. There were 68 people on board the train. None were reported injured.
Impairment is not currently suspected as a factor in this incident, but blood samples were taken from Williams for analysis.
Since a motorist is 20 times more likely to die in a crash involving a train than in a wreck with another vehicle, driver can remain safe at railroad crossing by observing the following safety guidelines:
- Never race a train to a crossing. Even if you tie, you lose.
- The train is moving faster than you think. If you see a train approaching, wait for it to go by before proceeding across the tracks.
- Trains cannot stop quickly. Even is the locomotive engineer sees you, a freight train moving at 55 mph can take more than a mile to come to a complete stop even when the emergency brakes are applied.
- Do not drive around the lowered gates. It is illegal and deadly.
- Do not stop on train tracks. Proceed across tracks only if you are sure you can drive all the way across without stopping. Remember, the train is three feet wider than the tracks on both sides.
- If your vehicle stalls on train track while a train is coming, get out of your vehicle immediately and move away from the tracks. Be sure to move away from the direction the train is traveling. If you flee in the same direction the train is traveling, debris from the impact with your vehicle could hit you.
- At a multiple track crossing, watch for more than one train possibly approaching from more than one direction.
- Only cross at designated crossings. Look both ways, and cross quickly without stopping.
- Always expect a train. Freight trains do not follow set schedules.