(Socorro, New Mexico – October 17, 2013)
A BNSF Railway employee was killed Thursday afternoon about 2:30 P.M. as he was operating a backhoe while working on a private crossing on BNSF property in Socorro, NM, and had his machine struck by a BNSF freight train traveling southbound at 46 mph.
The victim, identified as Elroy Vigil, 57, a 25-year BNSF employee, was thrown from his vehicle upon impact with the train, which he may never have seen or heard. The Federal Railroad Administration, in stipulating requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and in compliance with National Industrial Occupational Safety and Health standards, requires that seat belts be worn by employees on machinery so-equipped. At the same time, the FRA does not necessarily require the sounding of the train’s horn in approaching private crossings.
“The accident occurred on private BNSF property,” said BNSF spokesman Joe Faust. “Some private crossings require a whistle, but most do not,” he added.
“Safety is a number one priority for us,” declared Faust, indicating that the train, traveling from San Bernardino, CA to El Paso, TX, was equipped with a video camera in the nose of the lead locomotive, which “should have captured the entire incident,” and thus “should help with the investigation” into the tragic accident.
The incident forced the closure of the Otero Street crossing of BNSF rails, resulting in considerable vehicular traffic diversion into Friday.