Woman dies after being struck by train
While law enforcement and railway officials have confirmed a train accident Saturday evening resulted in one fatality, they are remaining mum about the identification of the victim and details of the incident.
According to Amy McBeth, regional director of public affairs for Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, a train struck and killed a woman on the train track at approximately 6:10 p.m. Saturday.
Authorities at the Fairfield Police Department were notified at 6:11 p.m. and responded immediately; the woman was dead when the officers arrived, according to a press release issued by the FPD.
The loaded coal train was eastbound when the incident occurred, McBeth said. The accident did not occur at a designated intersection but rather on the track approximately 1 mile east of the D Street intersection.
BNSF officials stopped train traffic to assist local authorities in their investigation. Train traffic resumed at approximately 10 p.m. Saturday after the crime scene was processed and another train crew from BNSF arrived to operate the train involved in the accident, authorities said.
According to McBeth, the incident remains under investigation by the Fairfield Police Department, and BNSF officials are continuing to cooperate with local authorities. Also involved in the investigation are the Iowa Office of the State Medical Examiner, the Fairfield Fire Department, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, the Jefferson County Attorney’s Office, and the Midwest Ambulance Service.
McBeth would not release the name of the victim or additional information regarding the accident. It is the railway’s practice to defer to local authorities in releasing that type of information, she said.
The FPD indicated the name of the victim is being withheld at this time, pending notification of all family members and the conclusion of the investigation.
When asked if he is concerned that the fatality will draw new criticism of the quiet zone, Fairfield Mayor Ed Malloy said, at this time, that is not a concern.
“If there’s a fatality involved, at this point in time, my only concern is for the family,” Malloy said.
The quiet zone, which means conductors no longer must blow their horns four times at each crossing in Fairfield, took effect last November. To become a quiet zone, the city had to construct concrete medians at the railroad crossings so vehicles could not go around the stop arms. Roads also had to be widened to allow extra space for the medians.
The project cost about $250,000. Two-thirds of that money came from private sources. The railroad company gave the city money to close two crossings, one on Third Street and the other on Eighth Street. The Iowa Department of Transportation gave $7,500 toward the project.
In March, Fairfield City Councilman Michael Halley said in an interview that the trains still blow their horns at times for a variety of reasons. For instance, train conductors always blow their horn when they travel a portion of the track where construction is occurring.
Conductors also blow their horns when they see a person, animal, vehicle or anything else on the track, Halley said.