(Kansas City, Kansas – July 14, 2014)
An employee of a grain transfer firm died tragically in an accident on BNSF Railway property, specifically the former Santa Fe Railway’s Argentine Yard near 42nd Street and Argentine Ave. in Kansas City, KS, Monday morning at about 9:30 A.M., CDT when he fell through a roof hatch on a covered railroad hopper car loaded with grain and suffocated before workers on the scene and emergency respondents could rescue him.
The grain transfer firm employee, James Breedlove, 48, was standing on the roof of the car assisting with the transloading of the rail car’s load into a semi-trailer truck adjacent to the car which was being unloaded.
Although the accident occurred on railroad property, the fact that the victim was neither a railroad employee nor was he performing railroad work, items normally coming under the jurisdiction of the Federal Railroad Administration, the Federal Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) will be handling the investigation, with a number of serious items, such as provision and use of fall protection equipment, to be studied.
Railroad hopper cars are designed to be loaded through hatches atop the car and unloaded, in funnel-fashion, through doors covering chutes in the bottom of the car. A Kansas City, KS Fire Dept. official referred to the effect of anything or anyone falling into such a situation as being “engulfed in quicksand.”
The victim had become asphyxiated by the time rescue workers reached him near the bottom of the hopper car.