(Midland, Texas – October 9, 2013)
An 18-wheeler loaded with oilfield pipe became impaled upon a low-ground-clearance crossing which was not marked as such, and was then struck by a Union Pacific freight train about five minutes later around 9:00 A.M. Wednesday morning at the intersection of UPRR rails and CR 1130 in Midland, TX. Witnesses filmed both angles of the accident with their cell phones. The videos taken by Kelly Blay of Abilene, TX and Dimber Garcia of Midland, TX appeared on local TV stations in Midland and then went viral on the Internet as well as international news media services.
With no indication of the crossing being one for 18-wheelers and other potentially long or low trailers to avoid, truck driver Blain J. Harrison had no way of knowing his load would not clear the crossing. With no time to notify the railroad’s emergency phone line of the situation, Harrison stayed with his rig and unsuccessfully attempted to dislodge it until the train was so close that he was still standing directly beside the tractor as the collision occurred. The rig and its load were all destroyed in the wreck.
The train, travelling along the same rail corridor as the tragic November 15, 2012 Wounded Warrior/Hunt for Heroes parade collision that killed four veterans and injured a number of others when an 18-wheeler loaded with wounded vets and their wives was struck by a UP freight train as the crossing signals at the Garfield/UPRR crossing in Midland gave less than significant warning time to the parade participants to avoid the tragic accident, carried the entire rig, scattering its load along the route, for a half mile beyond the CR 1130/UPRR intersection. At least 100 gallons of diesel fuel was spilled from one of the locomotives when its fuel tank ruptured.
Ironically, the Texas Dept. of Transportation’s railroad crossing authority had given strong consideration to eliminating the CR 1130/UPRR crossing in April of this year following a half dozen accidents there in the preceding 12 months, but due to its use by school busses and emergency service first responders, it was considered “too busy to close”.