A resident of a nursing home eloped on Thursday, March 18, 2010 from the Hunter Acres Caring Center in Sikeston, Missouri. The facility, owned by Don Bedell, is reportedly equipped with door sensors and alarms, so at this point, it is unknown how the woman managed to walk away.
This tragedy happened around 7:15 a.m. on Thursday when the 71 year-old woman left the facility and walked to the train tracks. According to the Sikeston Public Safety Chief Drew Juden, the woman was sitting by the tracks when a BNSF train came through. The engineer of the 113 car train blew the horn, slammed on the emergency brakes, and reportedly did everything to try and stop the train prior to hitting the woman. A train that length usually takes approximately 1/2 mile to stop.
After the train struck the woman, she was airlifted to St. Francis Medical Center and was later pronounced dead by the Scott County Coroner.
Having grown up in Cape Girardeau, which is just thirty miles north of Sikeston, I find this story particularly disturbing. I am familiar with most of the nursing homes in Southeast Missouri and their owners. When an event like this happens, one must wonder whether the ownership had provided enough financing for sufficient staff members. Door alarms are good, but if there are not enough staff members to hear or respond to the alarm, they really do little good.
My sincere condolences go to the family.