(Dayton, Idaho – January 9, 2013)
The driver of a Franklin County, ID dump truck was killed instantly Wednesday morning at about 10:08 A.M. when he drove his vehicle into the side of a moving Union Pacific freight train, derailing approximately 15 rail cars, at the non-gated crossing of Idaho State Highway 36 and UPRR tracks just outside of Dayton, ID.
According to Idaho State Police Lt. Ismail Gonzales, the truck driver, Heber Lewis, 56, of Preston, ID “was unable to see the train and ran right into the side of it, causing it to derail.”
The ISP officer also reported that the area was blanketed with thick fog at the time of the accident.
Witnesses to the tragedy said the brake light on the dump truck never flashed, an indication that the driver was probably unaware of the fact that the train was moving over the crossing as he approached it.
The Idaho 36/UPRR crossing is equipped with flashing lights, but has no crossing gates to provide further protection for motorists from the eight trains, with 79 mph maximum allowable speed, the crossing averages daily, according to Federal Railroad Administration statistics. The FRA also reported that, although this was the first fatality recorded at the crossing, four prior accidents had resulted in a total of three non-fatal injuries.