Man airlifted to hospital after train strikes plow

GUTHRIE — A 79-year-old Livingston County man was airlifted to an Urbana hospital after a train struck a chisel plow that was being pulled by his tractor south of Guthrie.

Ford County Sheriff Mark Doran said the accident occurred Monday on the Illinois Central Railroad crossing at the intersection of county roads 700 East and 700 North when Jerome Lawless, 79, of rural Strawn, disregarded a signal for an approaching train.

Lawless was driving a John Deere 4630 tractor that was pulling a chisel plow, Doran said. The tractor was southbound on 700 East and had cleared the railroad tracks, but the chisel plow did not, Doran said.

Around 1:45 p.m., a westbound Canadian National locomotive pulling about 15 cars struck the chisel plow, causing the tractor to spin 180 degrees and Lawless to be ejected from the cab of the tractor, Doran said.

The train continued moving for about 1,300 feet after impact, carrying the chisel plow with it, Doran said. The train’s conductor, Kim Thorp, 58, of Heyworth, told police the train was traveling at 57 mph when the collision occurred.

Lawless was found laying in a grassy ditch near the railroad when an ambulance from Gibson Area Hospital and firefighters from Gibson City arrived, Doran said. Also responding were the Ford County Sheriff’s Office and Gibson City police.

Lawless was taken by ambulance to the helipad at Gibson Area Hospital in Gibson City. He was transferred from there by helicopter to Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana, Doran said.

A Carle spokesman said Tuesday morning that she could find no information on Lawless’ status. Doran said Lawless’ injuries did not appear to be life-threatening.

Lawless was ticketed for disobeying a signal indicating an approaching train, Doran said.

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Horseswagled wrote on October 30, 2012 at 8:10 pm

Ford County Sheriff Mark Doran  wouldn't have a clue what the driver disregarded unless he is physic or was sitting at the railroad crossing and seen the railroad signals working 20 seconds before the train arrived as Federal law requires.

Where's his ticket for the evidence let go? 1. The train has video of this --- a public paid for thing ---Where is the video??? 2. The train had a event recorder of brakes,lights, horns, etc...public paid for with humongous overcharges---Where are the event recorder readings??? 3. The crossing signal housing has a event recorder with gate operation ---.public paid for with humongous overcharges---Where is the crossing house readings? 4. The crossing maintainer has a hand held that would show if the automated signals were calling him/her to come fix them. Where is the hand held??? 5. The drug/alcohol tests on the train crew are? 6. The railroad control center recording is?