(Walton, Kansas – October 6, 2012)
An as-yet unidentified 19-year-old female resident of Harvey County was killed and her 20-year-old husband critically injured, as was her 17-year-old brother, when the 2000 Dodge Intrepid she was driving north collided with an eastbound Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight train at the dangerous, unguarded crossing of Northeast 48th Street and BNSF tracks about a mile west of Walton, KS in rural Harvey County Saturday afternoon at about 12:15 P.M.
The rural NE 48th Street is of dirt/gravel surface, and the crossing surface is timber. Heavy trees obscure the sight distance on the northeast quadrant of the intersection. According to the Federal Railroad Administration, an average of 40 trains, including two Amtrak passenger operations, cross NE 48th Street on BNSF double tracks daily at a top speed of 79 mph. Yet, the sole “protection” at the grade crossing consists of a pair of standard, passive railroad crossbucks, ignoring railroad industry claims that 90% of such accidents could be prevented through the addition of flashing lights, bells and crossing gates.
The victim was pronounced dead at the scene from massive head injuries, while her husband was airlifted to Wesley Medical Center in Wichita, KS with critical head injuries, and her brother was taken to Wesley with head injuries as well.
Responding to the tragedy were the Harvey County Sheriff’s Dept., the Kansas Highway Patrol, Newton Police Dept., Walton EMT and Newton Fire and Ambulance personnel.