(Aurora, Nebraska – March 3, 2014)
A local driver of a pickup truck was seriously injured Monday morning about 9:50 A.M. when his vehicle was broadsided on the passenger side by a BNSF freight train at the dangerous, unguarded crossing of Hamilton County Road “O” and BNSF railroad tracks near Aurora, NE.
Vincent Schaffert, 24, of rural Aurora, NE was taken to Memorial Hospital in Aurora where he was admitted for treatment of unspecified injuries.
Hamilton County Sheriff Kirk Handrup told news media that the “O” Road crossing has only passive signage and no active warning devices.
Even though a daily average of 59 BNSF trains cross the BNSF/O Road intersection at a top allowable speed of 60 mph, the crossing does not have lights or gates. It is virtually certain that lights and gates would have prevented this incident. Both BNSF and Operation Lifesaver know lights and gates are the most effective type of protection at railroad crossings. Studies that have been conducted over fifty years ago confirm that lights and gates offer the ability to drastically reduce the number of vehicle/train accidents by as much as 96%.
Monday’s accident was the third to occur at that particular crossing, which recorded a fatality in a 1995 accident.