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With Rail Deaths Rising, Police Seek to Educate the Public

Police Chief Lisa Harrison said, "We are trying to keep any further tragedies from occurring."

Operation Lifesaver, a nonprofit organization for rail safety education, has published a press release reporting that while rail crossing collision numbers are down slightly, deaths and injuries from collisions and pedestrian incidents have increased.

The organization's president, Helen M. Sramek, said in the release that "the increase in deaths and injuries from crossing collisions and pedestrian-train trespass incidents is a very troubling trend."

The press release went on to say that

 . . . since 1997, more people have been killed while trespassing on tracks than from vehicle-train collisions at railroad crossings, according to FRA statistics.

"Based on news accounts of incidents, texting, headphones and other distractions appear to be part of the problem,” she continued. "Increasing public awareness of the need for caution near train tracks is important. Our recent public service advertising campaigns caution pedestrians to eliminate distractions around train tracks: stay focused, stay alive," Sramek concluded.

The study compared the first four months of 2012 with the first four months of 2011, so the accidents that ended the life of Mitchell Maserang in Wentzville and , were not counted in those numbers.

Wentzville Responds

On Sundays, when the holds its flea market, available parking spaces fill up and people sometimes park on the north side of the tracks. The nearest legal crossing is three blocks to the east, on Linn Avenue.

Chief Lisa Harrison spoke to Patch about how the department is working to inform and educate the public about the dangers of crossing the tracks illegally.

"That's the only time we have the problem," Harrison said. "A lot of people are walking across those tracks, and it's dangerous—and illegal."

The department issued two citations on Sunday, July 15.

Harrison said that the goal was to inform and notify the public. "We were giving verbal warnings. We did end up issuing citations to a couple of people that were less than receptive. We're not going to get into shouting matches. The signs were clearly there that said No Trespassing."

"We are going to try to get out there as often as we can," Harrison said.

 

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Jereme Shepherd August 03, 2012 at 07:28 PM
I was one of the two people that got a citation that day. It was not because I was less than receptive but that my child was getting very hot and he had already drank all the juice that I had packed for him I told the officer this and that I was just trying to get my child home into the ac and get him a drink. He did not care he wanted me to walk down to linn ave and cross I live 4 houses down on Meyer rd. I told him my sons life is more important than getting a ticket and so I crossed the tracks. What ever happened to the police protecting and serving what if my son would of had a heat related injury would he have cared or felt bad if he had to respond to that im not sure. The officer could of said come across get your child home if we catch you crossing again you will get a ticket no matter what. Since then I have drove to the flea market I go over there to buy fruit and food for my family like I was doing the day I received the ticket. I'm not a trouble maker I have never been in trouble with the law and this ticket just irritates me. My father was a police officer in Wentzville In The 80's he always told me that if you get to know people gives warnings when you can people will respect you more. The police in Wentzville I believe have become a ticket first ask questions latter type of department.

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