One dead after vehicle collides with train in Welsh

By Lee Peck - bio | email

WELSH, LA (KPLC) - One person is dead following a collision between a freight train and a vehicle Tuesday night.  It happened around 11 p.m. at a railroad crossing on South Elms Street near Railroad Street.

Stephanie Cormier Fontenot, 48, was killed on impact after her vehicle was struck by a Burlington Northern-Santa Fe train passing through town.

"Dispatcher advised she heard screeching - metal on metal," said Sgt. Russell Benoit, Welsh Police Department.

Sgt. Benoit was a block away when the call came in and was one of the first to respond to the scene.

"It was bad. The subject was pinned in the vehicle. The fire department performed extrication," said Benoit.

Investigators have talked with the BNSF train crew. "All three say the vehicle didn't stop at all and just continued through the crossing which caused the accident," said Welsh Police Chief Tommy Chaisson.

According to investigators the conductor estimated they were going 51 miles per hour at the time of the crash. The Elms Street crossing is one of the busiest crossings in Welsh and does not have crossing arms.

Welsh Police Lt. Jerome Jackson also worked the crash. It's opened up old wounds. Jackson's son, 18-year-old Jerome Jackson, Jr., was killed at the same crossing November 17, 1998.

"It was difficult for me to perform my duties but with the help of God I did so," said Jackson. "I know how that family feels. My heart and sympathy goes out to that family. I've been down that road. I was able to relate to them last night and I know what they are going through."

After his son's death, Jackson says they put up several more stop signs on both sides of the track, but feels it is not enough.

"I hope it doesn't take someone else to lose a family member before we get some crossing arms here. It's a problem and we need to get it addressed as soon as possible," said Jackson.

We contacted BNSF Railroad Company. They tell 7 News the crash is still under investigation, but that their thoughts and prayers are with the victim's family.

Stephanie Cormier Fontenot leaves behind one son and many family members and friends.

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