MORRISON, Ill. — Local and state police are continuing their investigation today into what led to a train-versus-truck crash that critically injured a Wisconsin man Sunday afternoon in Morrison.

Morrison firefighters and ambulance personnel were called to the Sawyer Road railroad crossing at 1:57 p.m. Sunday. When they arrived, they found a sport utility truck had been hit by an eastbound train and had been pushed about 20 railroad car lengths from the crossing located on the eastern edge of the city.

The truck, driven by Brian T. Houston, 31, of Kenosha, Wis., was traveling south on Sawyer Road. Police say at least two witnesses said the truck stopped at the activated crossing gates, proceeded through or around the crossing gates and stopped on the tracks in the path of the eastbound Union Pacific locomotive. The truck was hit on the passenger side and was pushed about one-quarter mile.

A Med Force helicopter arrived at 2:20 p.m. and airlifted Houston to Genesis East Hospital in Davenport and then to OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria, Ill.

The crash happened at an intersection where other major accidents have occurred in the past 12 years. Morrison High School students Mike Frederick and Derek Radenslaben were killed there in January 1994 after the car they were in was hit by a train.

In April 1996, 2-year-old Courtney Marweg of Morrison; her stepgrandmother, Janice Dotson, 38, of Prophetstown, Ill.; and Dotson’s fiance, Richard Conner, 53, of Morrison, died instantly after the Bronco Conner was driving was hit by a train. The collisions led to family members and friends campaigning for upgrades to the intersection, which at the time of those crashes had only a wooden sign.

In 1999, gates and lights were installed. The intersection recently underwent another upgrade, with lane separators placed in the center of the road at that intersection and others in town. Those safeguards were put in place as the city works to decrease the number of times whistles are blown as trains cut through town. The railroad agreed to lay off the horns if the city would agree to the placement of safeguards.

Sunday’s crash continues to be investigated by Morrison police and an Illinois State Police accident reconstruction officer. Morrison police were assisted at the scene by the Morrison Fire Department. Morrison ambulance personnel, the Whiteside County Sheriff’s Office and the Illinois State Police, Division of Operations.

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