(Burrton, Kansas – July 27, 2020)
A 21-year-old Halstead, KS farmer was tragically killed Monday afternoon at about 3:15 PM, CDT when his tractor was struck by a BNSF locomotive. The collision occurred at the dangerous and unguarded railroad crossing of South River Park Road and BNSF tracks near Burrton, KS.
Pronounced deceased at the scene was Kansan Taylor Koehn. Taylor was coming off SW 24th Street and onto South River Park Road just prior to the collision. He doubtfully heard or saw the oncoming locomotive before it was too late to avoid the collision.
Taylor Koehn’s tragedy marked the sixth collision to occur at this dangerous crossing. In the most recent collision before Monday’s tragedy, a BNSF train injured two occupants of a motor vehicle on May 31, 2019. On an average day, six BNSF or Amtrak passenger trains cross the -deadly railroad crossing at speeds up to 79 mph.
Despite the high collision frequency and high-speed trains operations, there are no active warning devices, such as lights and gates, at this crossing. It is virtually certain that lights and gates could have prevented this collision and the five before it. BNSF 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%.