(Roberts, Idaho – February 25, 2020)
A Roberts, Idaho driver of a semi-trailer truck hauling potatoes was struck by a Union Pacific train as he attempted to cross UPRR tracks at the intersection with Bassett Road (County Road 292) Tuesday afternoon at about 3:46 PM, MST. Law enforcement and emergency response authorities speculated the driver was unable to see the oncoming train prior to committing to the crossing.
Central Fire District Chief Carl Anderson told news media that the unsuspecting trucker, identified as Celestino Trejo Moreno, 57, of Idaho Falls, was struck by the southbound Union Pacific train and had his truck dragged down the tracks. The victim had just exited Idaho Highway 48, which parallels Union Pacific tracks, and turned in front of the train and was struck. Mr. Moreno was driving an empty 1998 Peterbilt potato truck when it was struck by one of two trains that regularly cross Bassett Road daily at a maximum speed of 40 mph.
The injured truck driver, whose rig was demolished, was taken to Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center in Idaho Falls for treatment of his crash-related injuries.
The crossing lacks any automatic warning devices (flashing lights and crossing gates) that most likely would have prevented both Tuesday’s crash as well as one that had occurred there in the past. It is virtually certain that lights and gates could have prevented this collision and the four before it. Union Pacific and Operation Lifesaver know that 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 collisions by as much as 96%.