(Atlanta, Nebraska – November 23, 2015)
A Nebraska husband and father saw an approaching Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight train at the dangerous and unguarded crossing of BNSF rails and J Road in Phelps County, NE early Monday afternoon too late, and unsuccessfully attempted to back his car off the tracks from the oncoming train. However, the car, which carried his wife and infant child as passengers, was struck on the front driver’s side, inflicting heavy damage, and sending his passengers to Phelps Memorial Health Center in Holdrege, NE with undisclosed injuries.
The Nebraska State Patrol did not offer identification of any of the victims. The crossing accommodates an average of 17 BNSF freight and Amtrak trains at speeds as high as 79 mph a day, according to the Federal Railroad Administration. This was the second collision to occur there. The extreme angle of the crossing, where there are no active warning devices, such as lights and gates, likely was a factor in the collision. It is virtually certain that if this 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%.
U.S. Highway 6 closely parallels the BNSF main line just beyond the road/rail intersection, which is near the small community of Atlanta, NE.