Fairfield Ledger

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Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 24, 2017

Woman dies after being struck by train

Photo by: STACI ANN WILSON WRIGHT A woman was struck and killed by a loaded coal train on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railway at approximately 6 p.m. Saturday. According to Amy McBeth, regional director of public affairs for Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway, the accident did not occur at a designated intersection but rather on the track approximately 1 mile east of the D Street intersection. An investigation by the Fairfield Police Department is ongoing, and officials have not released the name of the victim or additional details surrounding the incident.

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.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Michael Halley | Jul 10, 2013 09:06

Here's the official statement from the Fairfield Police Department:

July 9, 2013

Train Accident

Julie Harvey

The Fairfield Police Department has identified the person killed in Saturday’s train/pedestrian accident as 29 year old Serenity Stone of 503 N. Court Fairfield, Iowa.  Ms. Stone was walking along the tracks at the time of the accident and no foul play was involved.  This accident has nothing to do with the Quiet Zone and was not intersection related.

A very discouraging issue occurred during the course of the investigation.  Officers reported having children and independent news reporters trying to sneak into the area to take pictures or take a look at the scene.  Thankfully, officers were able to prevent any of this from happening.  The Fairfield Police Department requests all citizens respect the family and friends in their time of loss.

An investigation of this nature takes time and must be conducted thoroughly in a certain order.  First, officers must conduct the investigation at the scene of the accident which is time consuming.  All witnesses must be interviewed and evidence gathered.  Second, the medical examiner must be notified and follow their protocol.  Third, the deceased must be positively identified.  Forth, the next of kin must be notified.  It is the policy of the Fairfield Police Department to conduct all death notifications in person whenever possible.  Officers must be available to answer any questions with accurate information and provide any other assistance the family may need.

All citizens are reminded the railroad tracks and railroad right away is private property.  Unless at designated crossings, no one is allowed on the tracks without express permission from Burlington Northern Sante Fe.  Any individual on railroad property may be cited for trespassing.

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