(Sheridan, Wyoming – January 8, 2014)
A 43-year-old man driving a pickup truck eastbound on Wyoming Highway 336 near Sheridan, WY lost his life at about 5:30 P.M. Wednesday when he collided with a BNSF coal train at the crossing of BNSF railroad tracks and SH 336, a crossing which, although equipped with flashing lights and bells, has no crossing gates to protect the motoring public from passing trains.
Daniel Twohy of Wyarno, WY somehow failed to see the coal train, one of a daily average of a dozen freight trains which cross there at a top speed of 25 mph, occupying one of the two tracks, and collided with the 73rd car of the train, killing him instantly.
Even though the impact caused a partial derailment of the car, since there was no compromise of the air braking system, nor was the train equipped with an occupied caboose where a crew member could have seen the wreckage at the crossing or noticed the derailed car being dragged along the tracks, the engineer did not stop the train and continued on for a considerable distance before stopping the train at a required point.
The tragedy demonstrated that crossing protective systems which do not include gates are still sites of potential and actual crossing collisions as the gates are a key factor, when all systems are properly working, in railroad grade crossing accident prevention.