Family reflects on teenager’s life during Rail Safety week


CHAMPAIGN COUNTY, Ill. (WCIA) — This week is rail safety week across the state. It happens to fall one week shy of one year since an 18-year-old girl was killed at a railroad crossing.

The family of Savannah Day says it’s been a tough year. This week, they’re hoping parents will have a conversation with their driving-aged kids about paying closer attention to railroad crossings.

Savannah Day was killed on October 3rd last year, when her car hit a train at the railroad tracks on Homer Lake Road in rural Champaign County.

Just today, her family put up a new cross at the intersection. It’s painted purple, Savannah’s favorite color.

But that cross won’t be the only addition to this railroad crossing. The state plans to bring new signals and cross arms there.

Her family says there’s not much nearby to warn drivers of an upcoming crossing, and when Day was killed, the sun was low and visibility was poor. If those additional safety measures were in place when Day was driving, they think she might still be here today.

As they continue to cope with her death, they’re grateful for the outpouring of support from their friends and neighbors. They’re confident their community will continue honoring her memory through the years.

Everything reminds me of her. I hear her, I see her…and I hope…I can’t wait until the day we’re together,” said Gloria Day, Savannah’s mother.

Sydney Day, Savannah’s sister, said “I don’t think me and my mom and sister could do it without all the support that we’ve had. It does mean a lot, and it still means a lot, because it’s almost been a year, and we’ve still had the continued support from day one.”

We reached out to the Illinois Commerce Commission, the organization that’s working with the railroad company to bring the safety upgrades, to ask where plans are now.

They told us they are still in the planning phase, working with the railroad managers on cost estimates and other logistics.

This week, Illinois State Police are increasing enforcements around railroad crossings.

They’re reminding drivers to never go around cross arms when they’re down, even if you don’t see a train.

They also say you should always pause at an intersection that doesn’t have cross arms, to make sure the coast is clear before you cross.

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