(Hedley, Texas – January 25, 2012)
A 51-year-old heavy equipment operator for Donley County, TX died Wednesday afternoon about 2:30 P.M. when his road maintenance vehicle was struck by a Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight train at the dangerous, unguarded and oddly-designed intersection of County Road 23 and BNSF railroad tracks just west of Hedley, TX.
Randy Gene Woodard of Hedley, TX was operating his machine performing regular maintenance on CR-23 when he was surprised by and hit by the westbound BNSF train.
There are no automatic protective devices such as lights, bells or gates at the crossing, which is equipped solely with standard, passive railroad crossbuck signs as an attempt to keep trains and highway users apart. County Road 23 approaches the tracks in a southerly direction, makes a 90 degree turn and parallels the BNSF before making a second 90 degree turn and crossing the railroad before stopping at the four-laned, divided U.S. Highway 287.
Donley County Sheriff Butch Blackburn said the victim was dragged about a quarter of a mile down the tracks, even though the initial impact probably resulted in instant death.