Authorities have identified the man who died Saturday morning when his vehicle was struck by a train.
Lloyd Schuster, 53, of Pilot Point died because of blunt force trauma of the head and chest due to the collision, according to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office.
He was the only occupant in the vehicle, said Ric Sadler, Pilot Point police chief. No one else was injured in the accident, he said.
At about 9:30 a.m., Schuster was eastbound on FM455 at U.S. Highway 377 and the preliminary investigation shows the railroad crossing arm came down on the car, Sadler said.
Witnesses told police the car was jerking but didn’t move from under the crossing arm, Sadler said, adding that police don’t know if Lloyd was trying to move and had a mechanical malfunction or a medical issue.
“There are so many possibilities,” he said. “It’s not fair to speculate at this point.”
The poles and signals at the intersection also were damaged before the vehicle landed upside down in a ditch, authorities with the Denton County Sheriff’s Office said Saturday.
Pilot Point police are still investigating the collision.
Raquel Espinoza, spokeswoman with the railroad company Union Pacific, said the red railroad crossing lights and crossing arms were working properly. The train engineer also blew the whistle to warn the driver, she said.
“We have opened up an investigation to determine what happened,” Espinoza said.
The train crew has been connected with a peer support group for those who go through traumatic situations like this one, she said.
“Safety is a top priority for Union Pacific, which has public safety efforts that focus on urging drivers to stop for trains, and enforcing laws that are in place to keep communities safe,” Espinoza said.
Union Pacific works with Operation Lifesaver, an organization that seeks to reduce the number of rail-related incidents, she said. It offers safety campaigns for professional drivers and works with law enforcement agencies to make sure drivers are following the laws to keep the public safe.
A study on railroad crossing safety was last conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation in 2004.
The study shows that Texas is among the top six states with the most public grade crossing accidents, along with California, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana and Ohio.
About 51 percent of accidents occurred at crossings protected with automatic or active warning devices, the study showed.
About 94 percent of accidents and 87 percent of fatalities occurred because of risky driver behavior or poor judgment.
Operation Lifesaver gives the following safety tips:
- Don’t race trains at crossings — the train is closer and faster-moving than it may appear.
- Trains cannot stop quickly.
- Don’t drive around lowered gates.
- Don’t get trapped on the tracks.
- If the vehicle stalls on the track, get out and away from the tracks.
- At a multiple-track crossing, watch out for a second train.
- Cross the tracks quickly.
- Always expect a train, because freight trains aren’t on set schedules.
RACHEL MEHLHAFF can be reached at 940-566-6889. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .