St. Martinville woman killed by train

A St. Martinville woman was killed Wednesday afternoon in St. Martin Parish when the rear of her 1991 Chevrolet van was clipped by an Amtrak passenger train at a railroad crossing, causing the van to burst into flames, State Police said.

The collision occurred at the intersection of La. 92 and La. 182 in Cade when the van driven by Cassandra Papillion, 51, stopped behind another northbound vehicle with the rear portion of her vehicle on a set of train tracks at a traffic light, Troop I spokesman Stephen Hammons said.

Hammons said the accident occurred at 12:20 p.m. when a westbound train approached the intersection and struck Papillion’s vehicle.

After impact, Papillion’s vehicle struck a stopped southbound 2000 Nissan truck driven by Russ Romero, 34, of New Iberia, Hammons said.

Papillion’s vehicle came to rest west of the intersection and caught fire, Hammon said. Troopers indicated the active warning devices at the intersection (flashing red lights, bells and gates) were functioning properly, he said.

Hammons said the railroad crossing guard arms came down on the rear of the van as the train approached.

But Papillion, who was the lone occupant in the vehicle, did not move the van in time, Hammons said.

Papillion, who was wearing a seat belt, was pronounced dead at the scene by the St. Martin Parish coroner. Romero, who was also wearing a seat belt, sustained minor injuries.

It is unknown whether impairment was a factor in the crash; however, routine toxicology samples were obtained and will be submitted to the State Police Crime Lab in Baton Rouge for analysis.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said none of the 125 passengers aboard the train were injured in the crash, which occurred just after noon. Magliari said a crew member apparently suffered a knee injury while getting off the train after the collision.

The train, which had departed New Orleans around 9 a.m. and was bound for Los Angeles, was expected to be delayed for several hours while officials inspected it for damage and awaited a replacement crew. It had two locomotives and nine rail cars, Magliari said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.