Woman hit by train while taking photos is suing RR

Published 2:29 pm Thursday, November 19, 2009

Helen Gable was taking pictures on the railroad tracks in Tupelo in 2006 when a train cut her leg nearly off as she tried to get out of the way.

Gable and her husband are suing the BNSF Railway Company for nearly $6 million. The husband wants $575,000 for “his mental anguish and loss of consortium and sexual relations with his wife.”

Helen Gable says in the lawsuit that the company should have posted no-trespassing signs to keep people away from the tracks.

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She also claims the train was exceeding federal speed limits and that she was injured by a cable or wire that shouldn’t have been hanging off the side of the train, according to the lawsuit, which was first filed in Mississippi state court then transferred last week to U.S. District Court.

“Helen Gable, while taking pictures of her niece’s daughter, was exercising due care” while standing on the tracks, the lawsuit said.

Gable’s foot got stuck in the rocks about six feet from the tracks when she tried to get out of the way, the lawsuit says. It took six surgeries to repair the damage to her right leg.

BNSF Railway Company spokeswoman Suann Lundsberg said the company is investigating and is sympathetic to Gable’s injuries. But Lundsberg also said Gable “admits in her lawsuit filing that she was trespassing” to take photos on the track.

“What may have seemed a harmless photo opportunity is among the more dangerous activities any human being can engage in with a railroad,” Lundsberg said.

Lundsberg also said BNSF has equipment that detects if something is hanging or dragging from a train.

“Simply stated: Trains cannot stop quickly, and people need to be safe and responsible around railroad tracks,” Lundsberg said. “BNSF does have trespasser abatement programs and our train crews, resource protection personnel and other BNSF employees are all trained and instructed in the dangers associated with trespassers on the railroad.”

Gable’s attorney did not immediately respond Tuesday to a message.