Crystal Anna and her four children were just a block away from the town’s annual Halloween parade in Vandalia, Illinois when tragedy occurred. Thursday night, a train struck and killed the Illinois mother and three of her kids. Police are investigating the Vandalia train crash, but believe the setup of the intersection where the fatality took place, along with other factors may have confused the woman, citing a Fox News report.
Police say Anna, 35, died Friday at a local hospital from severe trauma, one day after a CSX freight train slammed into her SUV carrying four of her children. Three of the passengers were pronounced dead on the scene of the deadly train collision: Drake Wisnasky, 13, Anna Wisnasky, 10, and Alyssa Sewell, 18. However, Anna’s youngest child, Dylan Wisnasky, 9, survived the crash and is being treated at a hospital in St. Louis.
Apparently, the Greenville resident drove her vehicle around safety gates erected at the train crossing. According to Illinois State Police Master Sgt. Shad Payne, it appears the woman drove into the path of the eastbound train despite the flashing warning lights on and gates being in the down-position.
Vandalia Police Chief Jeff Ray viewed footage of the horrific train crash. Although there was inclement weather and the area was heavy with pedestrian traffic gearing up for the Halloween parade, he believes the crash didn’t have to happen.
“I didn’t see where she was boxed in on the railroad tracks… she would have stayed where she was at the train could have passed without incident.”
Early reports claim that the woman was stuck on the train tracks at the time of the fatal accident. However, Chief Ray said that despite reports and the grainy footage he viewed, it doesn’t support those crash theories. Ray does admit that the intersection can be confusing to those not familiar with the train track crossing.
The County Coroner Bruce Bowen echoed the chief’s assertions. He too believes the train wreck was tragic, but seemingly avoidable.
“It was raining at the time this happened and, with Main Street running adjacent to the railroad tracks, it was a congested area. But the way it is set up, she still should have been able to see the train. The whole thing is just a terrible, terrible tragedy that’s just unbelievable what this family is going to have to endure.
The town’s mayor released a heartfelt statement after the mother of four and three of her children perished in the train crash. A fund is set up to support the victims’ loved ones.