A Washington man is lucky to be alive after the implement of a tractor he was driving was struck by an Amtrak train Wednesday afternoon, March 19.
According to Washington Fire Chief Bill Halmich, Gene Brinker, Washington, was crossing an un-signaled, agricultural crossing five miles west of Washington, at St. John’s Island Access Road, located off of Bluff Road, near the Deppe Farm.
Halmich said the tractor Brinker was driving, with an implement attached, had just crossed the track, traveling north across the tracks. The call came in just after 12:50 p.m.
The tractor had cleared the tracks and an attached disk was struck, according to Cpl. Eric Kessler with the Missouri State Highway Patrol, who investigated the incident.
The tractor separated from the implement, which was strewn along the south side of the tracks. The tractor was on the north side of the tracks.
The Washington Fire Department dispatched an engine and rescue squad.
“We were relieved that no one was hurt,” Halmich said, adding that an ambulance crew was available for Brinker, the conductor and passengers in the train, however, none were injured.
Brinker, 66, was checked out by emergency personnel on scene as a precaution. He was not transported.
There were about 155 passengers on the Amtrak train, according to Marc Magliari, Amtrak media relations manager.
The eastbound train was delayed two hours and 44 minutes.
Because there was damage to the front of the locomotive, Magliari said a locomotive was leased from Union Pacific and the train continued to stops in Kirkwood and St. Louis.
A later westbound train was delayed by 90 minutes because of the incident, Magliari said.
“Drivers have an obligation to stop, look and listen for sounds of an approaching train,” Magliari said. “The outcome could have been a lot worse for the driver.”
Magliari stressed the importance of operators of farm implements and vehicles, especially at tracks without active warning devices, to watch and listen for warnings of an approaching train.
Halmich said he was told by the tractor driver that he didn’t see or hear the train coming.
The train did not derail and there was no damage to the tracks.
Halmich said the train conductor made necessary railroad contacts and the Missouri Highway Patrol is conducting an accident investigation, which is routine after an accident.