(Shallowater, Texas – December 9, 2013)
A helpless father watched his son’s death Monday afternoon at about 4:30 P.M. when the farm vehicle driven by the son was struck by a BNSF freight train at the dangerous, unguarded and elevated crossing of Farm Road 2378 (also known as County Road 1100) northwest of Shallowater, TX in Lubbock County. The two McAllen, TX residents were driving cotton module trucks, following one another, when the module driven by the father crossed over BNSF railroad tracks and stopped before turning onto Highway 84, which parallels the track with very little distance between the two intersections.
The cotton module operated by Mario Flores, 35, hesitated as it climbed the crossing’s approach and attempted to cross the tracks, and was struck by the Lubbock-bound train, killing the operator instantly.
“The father said he saw the crash right behind him,” attested Senior Trooper Bryan Witt of the Texas Dept. of Public Safety Highway Patrol. “It may have been where he just didn’t see (the train) coming, but we’re still investigating what happened,” Trooper Witt added.
The FM 2378/CR 1100/BNSF crossing has no active protection whatsoever from the daily average of 15 trains which cross there at a top allowable speed of 55 mph, thus offering no signalized warning such as flashing lights, bells and crossing 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%.
Cotton modules are machines with high-mounted cabs, and are used to carry harvested cotton to cotton gins for processing and baling.