(Spearville, Kansas – August 13, 2019)
A 59-year-old Spearville, KS farmer was killed at about 5:06 PM, CDT Tuesday evening when his northbound John Deere tractor was struck and demolished by a BNSF freight train. The collision occurred at the dangerous, notorious and unguarded crossing of Garnett Road and BNSF rails in Ford County, KS, 3 miles southwest of Spearville.
Bernard Stegman was taken to Western Plains Medical Center where he was pronounced deceased from his crash-related injuries.
The victim was the second to be killed at the unguarded crossing where an average of 10 BNSF freight and Amtrak passenger trains cross at a maximum allowable speed of 79 mph. A third collusion at the crossing had resulted in no casualties.
Despite the high speed trains and collision history, this crossing was unprotected by any active warning devices, such as lights and gates. It is virtually certain that if this crossing was equipped with lights and gates, this collision and the two before it would not have happened. BNSF and Operation Lifesaver both 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 accidents by as much as 96%.
The Kansas Highway Patrol was leading the investigation with assistance from the Ford County Sheriff’s Office.