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Jump in fatal train accidents prompts railroad crossing safety

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SPARTA, IL (KTVI)- A Breese, Illinois man was killed Thursday after trying to beat a train. Investigators stress caution when crossing railroad tracks. Police say many times when people are crossing a railroad track, they are either in a hurry or not paying attention, but those quick decisions can cost you your life.

It was just a few weeks ago when  80-year-old Henry Bloodworth died when an Amtrak train collided with his pickup truck in Alton. Witnesses say he drove around the warning gates.

"Sometimes you get the person who just don't want to wait. Other times, I think it's they are just not paying attention to their surroundings," said assistant police chief Jeremy Kemper.

Thirty-eight-year-old Jonathan Schrage of Breese , Illinois was killed Thursday afternoon when a train struck his truck at a crossing near Madison, Illinois on Illinois 143 at Railroad  Crossing Road. The  gates at the crossing were down and the flashing warning lights were on.

Police say Schrage drove around the gates and his truck was hit by a southbound train. Police are sending a  warning to drivers: think before you cross.

"That's a very dangerous act to do. Number one, any time you have a train vs vehicle accident, once that happens, the driver will sustain a fatal or very serious injuries.  It's  not worth the chance of doing," Kemper said.

Another train accident occurred Thursday, this time in Sparta, Illinois at First Street and Chester. A woman and her young daughter were hurt when her car was hit by a train. Police say the 22-year-old mother drove across the tracks while clearly seeing a train coming. Both victims were rushed to area hospitals with serious injuries. Police say they are lucky to  be alive. The railroad crossing in Sparta has no arms but does have flashing lights. The accident remains under investigation.