(Gretna, Nebraska – March 30, 2015)
A 14-year veteran county employee was seriously injured when his grader was hit by a BNSF freight train at the dangerous, unguarded BNSF railroad crossing of Capeheart Road near Gretna, NE. The crossing is also the site of three previous collisions and one injury.
Todd Gloe was life-flighted via helicopter to Omaha’s Nebraska Medicine Hospital, where he was admitted in serious condition after the 68-car-long BNSF freight train struck the machine at the crossing that is also obscured by heavy trees, brush and banked sides along the railroad tracks that run through a valley at that point.
It is virtually certain that if the vegetation was properly cleared, and the crossing was equipped with lights and gates this accident would not have happened. Both 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 accidents by as much as 96%.
KFAB Radio News reported that, regardless of the previously described conditions, “The railroad tracks are curved at the crossing, which prevents a clear line of sight” for anyone approaching the crossing which, according to Federal Railroad Administration records, sees a daily average of 41 trains, including a pair of Amtrak passenger train operations, at a top allowable speed of 60 mph.