(Rupert, Idaho – October 23, 2014)
The driver of a water truck sustained severe neck and chest injuries last Thursday afternoon at about 2:03 P.M., MDT, when he stopped his southbound vehicle at the dangerous, unguarded crossing of Road 800 East, near North Highway 24, in Minidoka County, ID, and then proceeded across the triple-tracked, high speed Union Pacific main line, only to be struck by an 8,000-foot-long eastbound freight train.
Jose Molina, 34, of Burley, ID was first taken to Minidoka Memorial Hospital in Rupert, ID, before being airlifted to Portneuff Medical Center in Pocatello, ID due to the serious nature of his injuries.
Minidoka County Sheriff Eric Snarr was unable to learn the train’s speed, but said that the victim had been driving on a dirt road along the tracks before entering Road 800 East, stopping at the significantly-elevated crossing – which was equipped only with an “Idaho cross-buck”, a sign which incorporates the standard railroad cross-buck with a highway “stop” sign—and driving into the path of a train he doubtfully ever saw or heard. His truck was destroyed and briefly caught on fire after the collision.
Molina was not the first victim at the crossing which lacked protection like flashing lights, bells and crossing gates. The Federal Railroad Administration documents indicate the crossing is crossed by 34 trains daily at a top-allowable speed of 79 mph. One person was killed and another injured in a collision between a truck and a UPRR train in 1975, and a second collision in 1988 had identical tragic results as one died and one was injured in another train/truck accident. Finally, a semi-trailer truck and a UP train collided in 1997, this time with no casualties.