(Reading, Kansas – January 31, 2012)
A Lyon County, KS worker died following a collision between the 2000 Sterling dump truck loaded with gravel he was operating and a southwest-bound Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight train at the dangerous, unguarded crossing of BNSF railroad tracks and County Road 240 southwest of Reading, KS Tuesday morning about 11:00 A.M.
Floyd Charles Becker, 72, of Neosho Rapids, KS and a Lyon County employee since 1995, was airlifted to The University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, KS, where he died after arrival.
Although Kansas Highway Patrol Lt. Michael Nicholson said that the victim ‘apparently failed to yield to the train,” a number of extremely important facts make it difficult to understand how he could have seen the train as it approached the Road 240/BNSF crossing. The crossing is equipped only with standard, passive railroad crossbucks to indicate the presence of railroad tracks, and has no automatic protection such as lights, bells or gates.
The truck was westbound, and the BNSF tracks approach Road 240 at an acute, less-than-45-degree angle partially obscured by trees a few hundred feet northeast of the crossing. The train struck the passenger side of the truck, meaning the driver’s sight distance for the train would have been extremely limited, dragging it and then flinging it loose, upright and along the tracks.