AMITE, LA (WVUE) - Neighbors near an unprotected railroad crossing want more warnings after a passenger train hit and killed Stephen Ricketson, 35, while he was crossing the tracks in his truck Sunday afternoon.
Andre Frazier, who lives near the crossing, said Ricketson was working just before the accident, helping a neighbor unlock her car after she was locked out.
"After he got them out, he pulled right here on the road, I guess he was doing his paperwork or texting on the phone or whatever, so at the same time the train was coming, he was pulling off at the same time," Frazier said.
Frazier's girlfriend,Teresa Brown, was outside just before the accident.
"I sat there and watched about 20 minutes, and when the train came he had pulled off and I went back in the house and then I heard a loud noise. His truck exploded and he was on the track," Brown said.
The accident hit close to home because Brown's husband was killed 13 years ago in another train accident just down the tracks from the unprotected crossing.
"I ran inside praying I wouldn't hear that noise, but when I made it in there I heard it, and Lord, then I ran back outside, but I couldn't stop him," Brown said.
Now Frazier is fed up and wants more done to protect the tracks outside his home.
"They should have a guard rail right here at this track. A guard rail would've saved a lot of lives," Frazier said.
Claude Maher with Operation Lifesaver, a group committed to ending train accidents in Louisiana, said the organization responsible for guarding the track may vary in some circumstances, but noted that 48 percent of accidents happen at crossings with some form of protection.
Passengers from the Amtrak passenger train were eventually bussed into New Orleans. Two passengers reportedly had minor injuries.