(Palmer, Nebraska – August 13, 2019)
A 23-year-old Grand Island, NE resident was hospitalized and his SUV destroyed after his vehicle was struck by a Nebraska Central Railroad freight train. The collision occurred at the lighted but non-gated crossing of 3rd Road in Merrick County near Palmer, NE Tuesday morning.
Derek Washington, the victim, was taken to and admitted at St. Francis Hospital in Grand Island for treatment of his crash-caused injuries.
The Nebraska Central is a 340-mile-long regional railroad made up from four former Union Pacific and one BNSF branch lines, and is under the control of former Southern Pacific and D&RGW holding company Rio Grande Pacific.
The train that struck Washington’s vehicle was one of eight daily rail movements that cross 3rd Road on an average day at a 20 mph speed limit.
Although equipped with lights, it is unclear if they were operating at the time of the wreck or properly aimed towards the motorist. The crossing also lacked gates, which have been proven to reduce collisions at lighted only crossings by up to two-thirds. A prior fatal collision occurred at this crossing in 1985 when a driver was struck by a then-Burlington Northern train.