Texas Train Tragedy
A tragic story out of Navasota, Texas illuminates a wider and more general problem regarding train safety. Aspiring model Fredzania “Zanie” Thompson, a 19-yeard old Texas native, was struck and killed by a train while she was posing to have her picture taken. To compound the tragedy of the accident, it was noted in the story that Zanie was engaged at the time of her death, to her 25-year-old boyfriend Darnell Chatman, and they had only recently found out that they were expecting a child. Zanie was a multi-hyphenate inspiration to her younger siblings: a star on her college volleyball team, a beauty expert and, of course, a young woman filled with dreams of becoming a famous model.
The fateful photoshoot took place at the nexus of two sets of railway tracks: one belonging to the BNSF and the other to the Union Pacific. Ms. Thompson was standing, originally, on the BNSF tracks and, as she fled an oncoming train, she was struck by a (different) Union Pacific train that was heading in the opposite direction. According to eye witnesses, both trains had blown their horns- but in all likelihood, everything unfolded so rapidly that this young woman had no time to react. Trains blitz down rails at deceptive speeds; it would require superhuman reflexes to dodge a speeding train once it was already upon you. That is why the best method for avoiding train-related injuries is abstention: staying off the tracks in the first place.
Fredzania Thompson was hurried to a nearby hospital, but was sadly pronounced dead when she arrived. And thus, this sad story serves as deadly example of what could go wrong when proper safety behavior is not taken on or around train tracks.
In the aftermath of a tragedy of this magnitude, there oftentimes feels like there is nothing that surviving loved ones can do to ease the pain. A small bit of solace: friends and family set forth to create a memorial in her honor. The memorial included photographs, of her smiling brightly: an homage to her budding fashion career, an act that honored perfectly her legacy.
Staying Safe Around Trains
Jumping around geographically once again, we turn now to Operation Lifesaver, a Canadian organization that has a compiled a thorough and well-considered list of train-related safety tips. According to the description on their website, Operation Lifesaver is an organization of “dedicated railroaders and citizens, aiming to save lives by educating Canadians about the hazards surrounding rail property and trains. Operation Lifesaver is a partnership initiative of the Railway Association of Canada and Transport Canada and works in cooperation with the rail industry, government, police, unions, and many public organizations and community groups.” Although the organization is based in Canada, the guidelines they’ve established are universal. Below, we have paraphrased some of their very important rules:
- Remember: timetables and the online posting of train schedules are often estimated and always prone to human error. Memorizing such schedules may be beneficial, but doing so does not ensure in any concrete or foolproof way that no other trains will pass through any given section of track at any moment. The best prevention method is steering clear of tracks entirely. Unless you have a very compelling and unavoidable reason to be on or near train tracks, it is very strongly advised that you avoid train tracks altogether.
- In short? Always expect a train.
- That’s all to say nothing of the fact that most train tracks are private property, and so trespassing on tracks is a very often considered a crime. This should be further incentive to stay away.
- If you believe a conductor will be able to employ a train’s emergency brake system, you are gravely mistaken. Do not make this fatal mistake- by the time a train conductor spots you on the rails, it’ll likely already be too late for him or her to stop the train in time. According to Operation Lifesaver: “It takes the average freight train traveling at 55 mph more than a mile—the length of 18 football fields—to stop.”
- If you must cross train tracks, do not do so while texting, listening to music on your headphones, or while engaging in other distractions. You must remain alert. It could save your life. Adhere to all posted signage, and always stop when alarm bells and lights are activated. Remember, modern light rails may not make as much noise as more old-fashioned trains, so you’ll have to rely on senses besides your hearing to avoid passing trains.
- Make sure to also remember that trains always have the right of way. Whereas “right of way” might be considered a matter of etiquette elsewhere, when it involves trains, it can mean the difference between life and death.
Kaplan Lawyers PC
Railroads and subways crisscross nearly every inch of New York City, and service the greater Tri-State area with incredible comprehensiveness. They make traveling without a personal vehicle easier and more affordable, but they also pose a great danger to those who take them for granted or behave recklessly in their presence. But trains, and those who operate and maintain them, are not always infallible. Oftentimes, the negligence or incompetence of a train operator can lead to injuries. If you or a loved one has been hurt by or on a train, it may be within your rights to sue for compensation. This compensation will help defray the cost of expensive medical bills, keep your family financially secure, and provide comfort for you as you recover from your physical injuries and your emotional ordeal. Not sure of your rights, or where to turn next? Kaplan Lawyers PC offers free and easy consultations, and we do not charge a fee unless we win compensation for you. So do not hesitate, contact Kaplan Lawyers PC today.