Miki Schoate has filed suit on behalf of her deceased husband against Union Pacific Railroad Company and two of its employees, claiming he was killed after a train struck his vehicle.

James L. Traylor was driving east on Grandpoint Avenue near Irving, Ill. on Oct. 26, 2006, when his automobile became stuck on the railroad crossing "due to an uneven surface and drop off in the crossing," the complaint filed Oct. 22 in Madison County Circuit Court states.

People in a passing vehicle were using a towing strap in an attempt to help Traylor remove his vehicle from the tracks when a Union Pacific locomotive traveling at 60 miles per hour hit his van, the suit states.

"James Traylor had been in his vehicle in an attempt to remove it from the track with help from other persons, and he exited his vehicle and attempted to run away from the oncoming train but was struck by his own vehicle after it was struck by the Union Pacific locomotive," the suit states.

Traylor died of his injuries and as a result of his death, Schoate claims she has lost his support, society, companionship and services.

Schoate has incurred funeral and burial expenses of more than $5,000, according to the complaint.

Union Pacific and its two locomotive employees, Rick D. Cooper and Jim D. Waldron, were negligent because they failed to stop the train before it hit Traylor's vehicle, according to the suit.

In addition, the railroad and its employees negligently drove the locomotive too fast, failed to keep a lookout, failed to have the locomotive under control, drove the locomotive in excess of the speed limit and failed to apply the brakes to avoid a collision, the suit states.

Schoate claims Union Pacific and its employees also failed to sound the horn to warn of its approach, failed to maintain the crossing, negligently designed the crossing in a way that it had a dangerous drop-off and maintained a dangerous crossing in a highly traveled area in Montgomery County.

In the two-count suit, Schoate is seeking a judgment in excess of $100,000, plus costs and prejudgment interest.

John H. Marshall, Leonard P. Cervantes and Jennifer Suttmoeller of Cervantes and Associates in St. Louis will be representing her.

Madison County District Court case number: 08-L-990.

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