(Inland, Nebraska – September 27, 2018)
A 60-year-old Nebraska farm worker lost his life last Thursday morning about 10:20 AM, CDT, when his tractor was struck by a BNSF train at the extremely angular unguarded crossing of Clay County Road 318, near Road E, near Inland, NE. Kurt Unger of Doniphan, NE, was operating the middle vehicle of a convoy made up of a trio of farm vehicles and was pulling a grain cart as the caravan crossed the single track crossing. The crossing is used by a daily average of 20 BNSF freight and Amtrak passenger trains at a maximum allowable speed of 79 mph.
Investigating Nebraska State Patrol personnel told KSNB-TV, Channel 4 Reporter Spencer Schubert that the tragedy occurred at “an uncontrolled railroad crossing, which means that it didn’t have arms that would drop to signify a train is near.” It is virtually certain that if this crossing was equipped with protective warning devices, such as lights and gates, this collision would not have occurred. Both BNSF and Operation Lifesaver know that lights and gates are the most effective type of protection at railroad crossings and studies have confirmed that lights and gates offer the ability to drastically reduce the number of vehicle/train collisions by as much as 96%.