Three family members: a woman, a boy and a girl, were killed when the SUV they were riding in slammed into a freight train at a railroad crossing in Illinois. Fayette County coroner Bruce Bowen they died in a Thursday evening crash that occurred in Vandalia, about 70 miles from St. Louis. Mr. Bowen didn’t release details about the dead, The Associated Press reported.
The vehicle driven by 35-year-old Crystal Anna of Greenville reportedly pulled into the path of the train. The crash resulted in the death of 10-year-old Abby Wisnasky, her brother, 13-year-old Drake Wisnasky, and stepsister, 18-year-old Alyssa Sewell. Bowen pronounced the victims dead at the scene at 7:16pm. Two other occupants in the vehicle were airlifted to a hospital in critical condition.
“The vehicle was between the crossing gates when it was struck by the train,” Bowen said. He explained that this crossing is large with two sets of tracks. Moreover, an eyewitness explained that the SUV backed up to the crossing gate to avoid the train but then attempted to move forward and get out of the path of the train, but couldn’t do so in time.
According to the Fayette County Sheriff’s Department, the accident occurred at the intersection of South Sixth and West Main streets in Vandalia at around 6:50 p.m. CT, just before the city’s Halloween parade. The accident happened just minutes before the parade was due to start, police said. He also added that he thought the crossing warning signals were working properly, and he wasn’t sure how the crash occurred.
The parade went on as scheduled. “It benefited us in the way that we did not have all those people that were at the parade down at the accident scene,” Vandalia Police Chief Jeff Ray said.
Authorities haven’t revealed what exactly led to the accident. An autopsy on the victims is scheduled for Friday at HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital in Effingham.