RED RIVER PARISH, LA (KSLA) - The truck driver involved in the collision that caused a major train derailment Wednesday in Red River Parish and sent four people to the hospital has been ticketed for failure to yield at the railroad crossing.
According to investigating troopers, 42-year-old Ruben Valdez of Laredo, TX was traveling east on US 84 while operating a 2012 Peterbilt tractor trailer when he approached a railroad crossing. For unknown reasons, Valdez disregarded the active warning signals and continued east onto the tracks. Subsequently, troopers say, a southbound Union Pacific train collided with the trailer separating it from the tractor.
After the collision, the tractor trailer, which was unloaded at the time of the crash, came to rest off the roadway. The engines and several train cars loaded with grain and sand derailed; some of which overturned. Fuel tanks on the engine, which were damaged in the crash, leaked and subsequently caught on fire. After the fires were extinguished, cleanup crews were called to the scene to safely remove the spilled load and fuel.
The train engineer and a trainee (conductor in training) along with Valdez, sustained non-life threatening injuries and were all transported to LSU Health Science Center (LSUHSC) in Shreveport. The train conductor sustained serious injuries in the crash and was airlifted to LSUHSC.
Valdez, who was wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash, was ticketed for failure to yield to the train at the railroad crossing. The crash remains under investigation.
US 84 at its intersection with LA 1 in Red River Parish will be closed until further notice while emergency crews work to clear the wreckage and repair damages. For around the clock, up to date road closure information, motorists can dial 511 or go on line to www.511La.org from any computer or web-enabled mobile device.
State Police reminds motorists to always "Look, Listen, and Live," when approaching a railroad grade crossing. Visit www.oli.org for more information and safety tips for motorists and pedestrians regarding rail safety. A motorist is almost 20 times more likely to die in a crash.