Three people were injured Tuesday morning when a vehicle traveling north on U.S. 63 collided with a COLT train at a railroad crossing just north of the Route B overpass.
Emergency crews arrived at 11:43 a.m. and evacuated three people from the vehicle. Kathryn Toal, 53, and Shannon Toal, 19, both of Clarence, suffered moderate injuries, according to the Columbia Fire Department. The driver, Robert C. Toal, 73, also of Clarence, suffered minor injuries. All three were transported to the trauma center at University Hospital.
Eyewitnesses Cynthia Nash and Cheryl Scott, both of Hallsville, were driving north on U.S. 63 when they approached the railroad crossing near the Route B overpass. They said warning lights were flashing, signaling the approach of a train. As they waited for the train to cross, Nash said they saw a white Ford Taurus drive around them and continue toward the tracks.
“Oh my God! That is going to hurt!” Nash said she told Scott as the Taurus smashed into the side of the locomotive.
The car then burst into flames, littering debris, including the car’s hood and an air tank from the train, on the highway and median. The car suffered moderate damage to the front end and the windshield was severely cracked. The train sustained damage to the air and fuel tank and air pipes, the fire department said.
The train was traveling 18 mph in 25 mph zone and was transporting three rail cars loaded with lumber from Centralia, said the engineer, Shane Riley. The train came to a halt about 100 yards from the highway.
The cause of the crash is under investigation by the Columbia Police Department.