(Durham, Kansas January 8, 2017)
A 29-year-old Hutchinson, KS motorist lost his life Sunday afternoon at about 12:41 P.M., CST, when he unsuccessfully attempted to stop his 1990 Chevy GEO at the extremely angular, but gated, intersection of Kansas Highway 15 (Santa Fe Street) and Union Pacific Railroad tracks in the Marion County, KS community of Durham.
Nathan L. Parson was driving southbound on K-15 as he approached the signalized crossing. At the same time a UPRR train was approaching from the east at a 45 degree angle. Skid marks from the victims vehicles braking tires as well as statements from eyewitnesses determined that he was attempting to stop his car, but was unable to do so before it came into harms way, sliding beneath the lowered gate and onto the tracks. Federal records indicate the trains carry a daily average of 16 trains at a maximum allowable speed of 70 mph.
There was no indication of whether weather conditions might have played any role in the tragedy. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene by Deputy Medical Examiner JoAnn Knak.
Two previous collisions at the crossing under former owner St. Louis Southwestern (Southern Pacific) railroad operation had produced no injuries.