Drivers want change after fatal train crash in Limestone Co.

This is the second fatality at this particular railroad crossing in just two months.

Posted: Jul 1, 2019 7:46 PM

A community is begging for change after another driver was hit by a train and killed in Limestone County.

Art Lapietra died in the Saturday morning crash at the crossing on Laughmiller Road in Tanner.

This is the second fatality there in just two months.

“Art is a very cautious 61-year-old man who cares about his family and does anything for anybody," Caroline Reed said.

Caroline Reed told WAAY 31 she was a close family friend of Art Lapietra—the man who was hit by a train Saturday morning and killed.

“He was the backbone of the family," she said.

Reed went back out to the crash scene on Monday to see if she could figure out how and why it happened.

“The treeline, the corn at this time of year, it’s just highly unsafe," Reed said. "This is a dangerous area. You can’t see the train coming unless you’re sitting on the tracks.”

And, unfortunately, Lapietra is not the first victim at this particular crossing.

A man named Luis Cruz died on the same tracks back in May.

And while these are the first two reported fatalities at the crossing since 2014, Reed told WAAY 31 a memorial left by the tracks shouldn’t be there at all; and that’s why she’s pushing for change.

“With two occurrences happening in such a short time frame, I think it needs to happen now. Like today or tomorrow," she said. "Clearance. A little bit easier way to see. A stop sign, some arms, lights, what is typical and default for a normal railroad crossing.”

WAAY 31 reached out to the Alabama Department of Transportation and they told us they prioritize improvements at railroad crossings based on traffic, number of trains, accident history, and sight distance.

Records show 19 trains go through the crossing every day at a maximum speed of 60 miles per hour. In a 2011 report, about 150 vehicles passed through daily.

Reed told WAAY 31 she’s afraid these accidents could’ve been prevented, and she doesn’t want another family to go through what Lapietra’s family is going through right now.

“He’s got three daughters and they all have their own children. They’re suffering a major loss right now that was completely unexpected," she said.

Transportation officials told WAAY 31 they improve about 30 railroad crossings a year, statewide.

They say these recent crashes will factor into future prioritization.

Some safety improvements could include gates, lights, or bells, but officials told us that could cost $300,000 or more.

Arms or gates are not required at railroad crossings in the state of Alabama, according to transportation officials.

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