(Mitchell, Nebraska – October 20, 2017)
A 64-year-old Nebraska grandfather died and his 8-year-old granddaughter was airlifted to a hospital with undisclosed injuries after the grain-loaded semi-trailer truck was struck by an eastbound Burlington Northern Santa Fe coal train two miles west of Mitchell, NE about 7:00 A.M. Friday morning.
The cab portion of the 18-wheeler Michael Weimer of Morrill, NE was driving was torn from the truck tractor’s chassis and cast aside as the chassis and trailer were carried a considerable distance east of the dangerous and unguarded Scotts Bluff County Road 12 crossing of BNSF track. According the sources the grandfather’s young granddaughter was seated in a legal restraint device. The youngster, who was not identified, was flown by an Air Link helicopter to Regional West Medical Center in Scotts Bluff, where she was admitted for treatment of her crash-inflicted injuries.
The tragic collision was the fourth accident recorded at the crossbuck/yield sign equipped crossing, with numerous news media outlets pointing out the lack of crossing gates and flashing lights as a source of the collision. It is virtually certain that if this crossing was protected by active warning devices, this collision and the eight before it would not have occurred. 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%.
The crossing is used by a daily average of 42 BNSF freight trains which can travel at a maximum speed of 50 mph. Two non-fatal injuries had been suffered there in previous accidents, but the powers-that-be still left the angular crossing without proper protection.