Uncleared vegetation blamed in Hartford railroad track accident

Kelly Holleran Jun. 14, 2010, 3:59am

An East Alton man claims a Kansas City Southern Railway Company train struck his pickup truck as he attempted to cross railroad tracks.

Kevin L. Vinyard filed a complaint June 4 in Madison County Circuit Court against the Kansas City Southern Railway Company, Mark Rowland, Richard D. Puterbaugh and Joseph W. Schindler.

Vinyard claims he drove east on Robbins Road on Sept. 28, 2008, when, without warning, an Amtrak passenger train collided into his pickup truck at an unprotected Kansas City Southern Railway crossing near Robbins Road's intersection with Seventh Street in Hartford.

Because of the collision, Vinyard suffered debilitating, progressive and permanent injuries to his spine, chest, ribs, abdomen and head; incurred medical costs; experienced pain, suffering and mental anguish; lost his earnings, his earning capacity and his enjoyment of life; and sustained scars and disfigurement, according to the complaint.

He blames Kansas City Southern and Puterbaugh, who served as maintenance supervisor, for causing the collision, saying they failed to construct a safe and reasonable crossing, failed to maintain the crossing in a safe and reasonable condition, failed to clear vegetation from their right-of-ways, failed to provide adequate sight lines to approaching motorists, failed to adequately mark the crossing for approaching motorists and failed to provide adequate warning of approaching trains, among other acts of negligence.

Vinyard also holds Amtrak operators Rowland and Schindler partly responsible, saying they negligently failed to sound a proper horn warning, failed to keep a careful lookout and failed to slow the train to avoid a collision.

In his complaint, Vinyard seeks compensatory damages of more than $50,000, plus costs and other relief the court deems just.

Robert C. Sullivan, Jose M. Bautista and Timothy R. Morgan of Sullivan, Bautista, Morgan, Allen and Chronic in Kansas City and Gregory M. Tobin of Pratt and Tobin in East Alton will be representing him.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 10-L-593.

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