Brent Morris Killed in Pickens, AR, Train Accident
Pickens, AR -- January 9, 2017, Brent Morris was killed following an accident where his vehicle went onto a set of tracks and crashed with a train.
The Arkansas State Police were called to investigate the fatal accident scene just after 5:00 a.m. According to their report, 45-year-old Morris was driving a Ford along Walnut Lake Road.
As Morris drove through the intersection of FM 19, he allegedly failed to stop at a stop sign. As a result, his vehicle went onto a set of railroad tracks as a train was passing. The train collided with his car, ejecting him from the vehicle.
Morris suffered fatal injuries in the crash, and authorities pronounced him dead at the scene. No additional injuries were reported.
At this time, State Troopers continue to investigate the fatal incident.
Map of the Area
The police report in this case indicates that Mr. Morris ran a stop sign, hitting the train. If these reports are true most people would see that as the beginning and end of determining fault. If a driver runs a stop sign, they're liable, right? Well things aren't exactly that simple. That is certainly a significant detail, if true, but it's hardly the full picture. Determining fault after an accident require looking at the context as a whole.
Looking at the location of this accident, there is indeed a stop sign here. It comes at the end of a narrow road that is surrounded by trees. I would say that night, coming off this road, it would be easy not to see a train until you got up to the tracks. Add to this that the tracks here are like many in rural areas, signs but no lights or gates. This in itself is not necessarily dangerous, but it definitely changes the accident from some I've seen where people drive around the gates to try and beat the train.
Consider also that train conductors must make all effort--whenever possible--to avoid hitting obstructions on the tracks. Sometimes, vehicles pass over the tracks at the last second. Trains don't exactly stop on a dime, so it's understandable that a train operator wouldn't be able to avoid such an accident. However, there have also been accidents where something or someone was on the tracks, and the operator wasn't paying attention. As a result, the train did not slow down in time and led to someone's injury or death.
Just because a train is on a set of tracks does not mean it can't be controlled. Investigations can't just go with the easy answer or the common answer. They must go in-depth and look at every possible factor of an accident. Otherwise, crucial details can fall through the cracks. In order for victims and their families to get the fair chance they deserve, steps must be taken to ensure the full story is told. That way, whether it is seeking compensation or grieving, the next steps forward can be taken.
--Grossman Law Offices