(Manzanola, Colorado – May 30, 2015)
A young Colorado mother and her two young daughters, ages five and one, all three properly restrained with either seat belts or fully-compliant child safety seats, narrowly escaped death when their car was hit by a BNSF train at the dangerous and unguarded grade crossing of Otero County Road 9.5 and BNSF railroad tracks just outside of Manzanola, CO, a town 40 miles east of Pueblo, CO, at about 9:55 A.M. Saturday morning. The driver may have seen the eastbound Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway coal train, powered by four locomotives and hauling 120 hopper cars fully loaded with coal charging down upon her 1998 Chevy Malibu at the last second. But at that time, it was too late.
Local mother, Staci Davis, was driving north on CR 9.5 with her children in the back seat as the train struck their vehicle. The train was one of 17 which pass there at a top allowable speed of 55 mph on an average day according to Federal Railroad Administration struck their vehicle. The crossing lacks any form of active warning devices, such as lights and gates.
The rail line is paralleled by Colorado Highway 50 with only 60 feet of vehicular storage space beyond the road/rail intersection. Mrs. Davis apparently tried to stop too late at the crossing and the train struck the front passenger side of the car.
Staci and her elder daughter both suffered what authorities called “minor” injuries. All three occupants were transported by ambulance to the Parkview Medical Hospital in Pueblo for examination and treatment of their injuries.
Colorado State Patrol troopers assured the media that “alcohol or drugs are not considered to be a factor in this crash.”