(Lawrence, Kansas – April 2, 2012)
A popular 40-year-old counselor at Lawrence Free State High School was killed instantly Monday morning about 2:20 A.M. when her silver Honda crossed paths with a Union Pacific coal train at the crossing of UPRR tracks and North 1800 Road, the entrance to Lawrence Riverfront Park.
Aimee Ziegler’s car was virtually destroyed by the train, travelling between Wyoming and East St. Louis, IL in 60 mph territory.
Although investigating Douglas County Sheriff’s Dept. officers echoed the claims of the train crew that the victim skirted a downed crossing gate, the videotape of the tragedy recorded by the locomotive’s nose camera probably will first be “reviewed” by Union Pacific officials before, if ever, being offered to public law enforcement representatives so they can complete their report.
The Lawrence School District’s crisis support team was on hand Monday morning to comfort Free State students upon the loss of the well-liked guidance counselor, who also coached soccer and basketball. Ziegler, who is survived by her husband and the couple’s three young sons, had been an employee of the Lawrence School District for several years, the last three as a guidance counselor at Free State HS.
The crossing has a tragic history, as Monday’s accident was the eighth collision at the UPRR/North 1800 Road intersection, and was the third fatality resultant from those events which have also produced four non-fatal injuries. An average of 44 trains daily operate over the crossing.