(Roosevelt County, Montana – January 18, 2012)
A truck driver and two train crew members were injured, four locomotives and 10 loaded intermodal freight cars derailed, and traffic along main thoroughfare Montana Highway 2 will be disrupted for days after Tuesday’s collision between a flatbed 18-wheeler and a 40-car Burlington Northern train traveling at 69 mph at a dangerous, unguarded private farm crossing near milepost 665 of Highway 2 between Bainville and Culbertson in Roosevelt County, MT Tuesday afternoon about 1:30 P.M.
Since the crossing is listed as private, the train’s engineer probably did not sound the locomotive’s horn until it was clear that the truck driver did not see the train coming and was already in harm’s way, as Federal Railroad Administration rules do not require the sounding of the train’s horn when approaching private crossings. The crossing had no automatic protection such as lights, bells or gates, instead having only the standard, passive private crossing signage to warn motorists of approaching trains.
Montana Highway Patrol personnel surmised that the driver of the 18-wheeler either didn’t see the train, or did so too late to be able to stop the truck in time to avoid the collision.
The totally demolished truck was struck directly between the tractor and trailer, and Patrick Francis Parker, 56, of Sidney, MT, the truck driver, was airlifted to a Billings, MT hospital, suffering from both broken ribs and broken teeth, while disposition of the shaken condition of the locomotive engineer and conductor was unknown, other than that their injuries were not considered serious.
The Chicago-to-Seattle train’s four locomotives derailed and two of them overturned, while one-fourth of the articulated intermodal (container-on-flat-car) cars in the train’s consist derailed and piled up in a massive mess which will take days to clear and impair traffic on Highway 2, which parallels the BNSF “Hi-Line”, separated by a distance of about 150 feet. An estimated 500 gallons of diesel fuel leaked from the wrecked locomotives.