February 2, 2018 – TheHill.com – Jim Matthews, Opinion Contributor –
On Wednesday morning, I asked my staff to post a cautionary video of a truck driver in Florida ignoring flashing lights and lowered crossing gates to drive across the tracks, narrowly avoiding crashing into a Brightline train. Hours later, Republican members of Congress were involved in an accident when the Amtrak train they were riding hit a garbage truck at a grade crossing outside Charlottesville, Virginia. The driver appears to have ignored flashing lights and lowered crossing gates in an attempt to beat the train across the tracks.
Was this a premonition? A coincidence?
You don’t have to be a psychic to predict these accidents. In the U.S., a person or vehicle gets hit by a train every three hours, accounting for 96 percent of rail industry fatalities. Of course, most of these incidents involve freight trains, and most casualties are not members of Congress, so they don’t get the same media attention. But the loss is real, and it begs the question: What needs to be done?
Editor’s Note: Some of the members of Congress including Representative Michael Burgess (TX) are trained medical practitioners and assisted with people that needed attention on and off the train. According to the Dallas Morning News Burgess said he and a paramedic worked to save a man who was bleeding and unconscious. The congressman said he applied pressure to the man’s throat to keep his airway clear while the paramedic tried to stabilize his neck. “We were in poor conditions and I didn’t have gloves,” Burgess said. “You do what you have to do in those situations.”