(Exeter, Nebraska – August 1, 2011)
California Zephyr has incurred another accident, this one ranking among the most bizarre of several incidents the Amtrak passenger train has suffered in the past two months. This time, the train struck a “Center Pivot Irrigator”, a huge piece of agricultural irrigation equipment utilized in farming areas in Nebraska and other farming states.
Center pivots are often a quarter-mile long, and move on sets of tires in a circular pattern around water sources such as wells or water pumps. How the unmanned irrigator got onto the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad tracks which the California Zephyr uses to cross Nebraska is still a mystery, but the crash damaged both locomotives hauling the 10-car train loaded with 247 passengers when it occurred about 6:00 A.M. Monday morning just west of Exeter, NE.
Filmore County Emergency Manager Donna Mainwaring called the collision, which injured both Amtrak crewmen in the locomotive, “a minor traffic accident.” One locomotive was too badly damaged to continue the Oakland, CA-bound trip and was replaced with a BNSF freight locomotive in the emergency situation.