Horror Strikes Southern Illinois Town
3 Dead 1 Critical in Marissa
Horror struck the small village of Marissa, IL early Monday when a Union Pacific freight train struck a 2004 Chevy Blazer driven by Tina Porter 43. The train traveling westbound at speeds up to 70 mph collided with the SUV at the S. Main St. crossing. Upon impact all 4 victims were thrown from the vehicle. Dead at the scene were driver Tina Porter 43, daughter Allaysa 13 and friend Jean Calvert 13. Julie Seymour 12 remains in critical condition at Cardinal Glennon’s Children’s Hospital in St. Louis. The crossing, which used to have safety gates back in 1962 offered only warning lights as a safety barrier. The warning lights were reported working but the time of day may have made it impossible for Tina to recognize them.
Neighbors in Marissa have pushed for the gates to be reinstalled at this well traveled crossing for years. The ICC after being served a petition signed by residents in 2005 finally recognized the needs and dangers but has put off installation of any new safety barricades until 2010. KristensLaw has learned this crossing has a long history of collisions, including fatalities in four separate incidents. Two fatal accidents, one in 1959 and one in 1961 before the removal of the gates. The two other fatal accidents were in 1968 and 1972 after the gates were removed. In 1986 there was a collision that injured two.
Here is a resident’s description of this crossing area. “Well, I am originally from Marissa and lived only a block away from the railroad tracks for most of my life. I went to Marissa Jr. Sr. High School and have went over these tracks many times. When going north on Main St. crossing the tracks you can see only straight ahead of you. To your right you have old fruits market that is only a road width off the railroad tracks and to the left, the funeral home in-which you can see much better but still difficult at times. The trains come from the east diagonally from southeast to northeast so you really have to get close to the tracks to see the train coming if you can’t see the lights above. The lights are pretty high up from there because of how the road grade is configured. Also to not that it was 20+ degrees out this morning and I drive a Tahoe that had ice in the top of the brow area of the windshield.”
T.E.A.R.S. representatives are planted in Marissa and are working with the families as well as the surrounding communities. T.E.A.R.S. President Ray Zukowski recognized this area as one that has been active for years when it concerns railroad safety and safety reforms. “Kudos to this community for pushing government agencies to do their jobs. It is horrific that the ICC, Canadian National and UP Railroad has put correcting this deadly situation on the back burner.”