Operation shows drivers, pedestrians disregarding railroad crossings

Dozens of drivers were seen breaking the law.

CORPUS CHRISTI (KIII NEWS) - Police in Robstown conducted a different kind of sting operation Wednesday. The idea was to catch drivers who ignore warning signals at railroad crossings.

3News rode along on one train with law officers looking for violators.

DPS, Robstown police, and Union Pacific security were all aboard and saw a lot of cars cross the tracks against the lights and the arms at railroad crossings ahead of the train.

Dozens of drivers were seen breaking the law.

The officers on the train would radio to a number of squad cars pointing out the violators so they could be stopped and issued tickets.

There is a long list of violations involving railroad crossings and the fines range from $50 to $500 per offense.

Robstown Police Officer Isaac Deleon said his fellow officers ticketed 12-15 drivers, about as many as a similar operation a year ago.

"We did the same operation last year and it turned out about the same," Deleon said. "I mean, we had the same amount of violators going through the tracks when the arms were down, the lights were on. It seems like nothing has changed."

Not only were everyday drivers ignoring the signals, but two gravel trucks were caught on camera driving around the warning arms.

Union Pacific Special Agent Alfredo Rodriguez said the trucks "disregarded the signals and went around the gates with an officer there at the intersection."

A pedestrian was also seen carrying a large bag walking against the lights at a crossing. Police issued him a ticket as well.

DPS Trooper Nathan Brandley said there was one recent auto-train accident that resulted in tragedy. That was when Ken Starrs, a narcotics officer who was involved with the Shop with a Cop program and Special Olympics Texas, was killed in an early morning auto-train accident on Highway 77.

"And it can happen so quick, even a train that's traveling 35-40 miles an hour," Brandley said. "And again, we talk about the time that it takes for a train that's moving even 15-20 miles an hour, let alone one that's moving at 50-55 miles an hour."

Union Pacific said even a slow-moving train may require a mile before it's able to stop.

Police are hoping to make sure that no fatal train accidents happen again.

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