WCSO volunteers work to prevent tragedy on railroad tracks

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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - "Approximately every three hours in the United States, someone is killed or seriously injured in a train-vehicle or train-pedestrian collision. So stay off train tracks, obey the crossing signals out there and stay safe," says Richard Gent, a volunteer with the Washoe County Sheriff's Office Rail Auxiliary Team.

Gent is one of several volunteers who spent Tuesday morning trying to get the word out about the dangers of not following the rules around railroad crossings and tracks. The volunteers passed out flyers to pedestrians and drivers at the railroad tracks around Sutro Street and the Amtrak Station in downtown Reno. Their efforts were part of Operation Clear Track, which is one of the activities scheduled for U.S. Rail Safety Week.

While there have not been a lot of recent train incidents involving pedestrians and vehicles in Washoe County, Gent says the potential is there.

"One of the challenges we do have around here is what we have called trespassers, who are people waiting around the train tracks, not paying attention," says Gent. "The railroad tracks are private property, first off, and they shouldn't be walking on the train tracks, and that's where people get in trouble. They can't hear the train because it's coming down there and the next thing they know it's on top of them and that's how people get in trouble."

Gent believes the real tragedy is that most train accidents could be prevented.

"Just pay attention to the crossings out there and don't go on the train tracks, then they're going to be safe," he says.