Pictured: Ron Taylor with the Alice Police Department joins other officers from the Alice and Kingsville police departments Wednesday at a training on investigating train collisions. Photo by OFELIA GARCIA HUNTER

First responders and lawmen take part in class

Ofelia Garcia Hunter, Alice Echo-News Journal

Law enforcement officials and emergency responders from the area with police departments, constable's office and the fire department attended a four-hour workshop Wednesday on Grade Crossing Collision Investigations.

"There are a lot of crossings in Alice and every time a train comes through there's potential for a collision," said Allen Pepper, director of public safety for Kansas City Southern.

Pepper travels throughout the country conducting safety and investigative sessions for law enforcement officials and first responders.

Eighteen individuals with the Alice Police Department, Falfurrias Police Department, Kingsville Police Department, Alice Fire Department and the Jim Wells County constable's office participated in a training to learn how to investigate collisions involving a train. The training was held at the Holiday Inn Express Wednesday.

The training detailed specific investigative procedures law officers and first responders should use and document.

According to the Federal Railroad Administration 2006 statistics, Texas ranks on the top of the list for crossing collisions at 336 to second place Illinois at 174 collisions. Texas ranks number one in crossing fatalities with 42 and 147 crossing injuries in 2006. The state also is listed with the most trespass injuries with 69 and is listed as second for trespass fatalities with 51, with California coming in first with 91 trespass fatalities, the 2006 report said.

"Trespass incidents are in the increase," Pepper said.

With Texas having the highest numbers of fatalities on the country, Bueno said the program is imperative for his officers.

"It's very important for the police department to participate in this," he said. "With the many crossings that we have…and citizens are always in a hurry."

Pepper told the group that when lights are flashing, most of the time it's for a reason.

"If the lights are flashing, they are flashing for a reason," he said. "Just be prepared for anything."