(Lincoln, Nebraska – October 14, 2011)
A now-24-year old woman, paralyzed from the chest down when the car in which she was a passenger was struck by a Union Pacific Railroad freight train at a dangerous, unguarded crossing near Belvidere in Thayer County, NE in 2005, has been given a second chance at justice.
The Nebraska Supreme Court overruled a Lancaster County District Court Judge, who, in 2009, dismissed Krista Rosecrans’ suit against UPRR, in Friday’s Court action in Lincoln, NE. Rosecrans, then 18 years old, was riding in a car driven by Chanda McDonald when the driver stopped at a rural UP crossing, which had no electronic or automatic (gates, lights or bells) protection, only to pull into the path of a UP freight train which neither girl heard sound its horn nor even saw before pulling onto the crossing.
The UP locomotive engineer had testified that he activated the emergency brakes when he saw the vehicle pull onto the train tracks, before the train had entered the crossing.
“If this evidence were uncontroverted, we would agree with Union Pacific,” said the court in its ruling. “But it is not. Contrary to the engineer’s testimony, the train event recorder shows the emergency brake was not activated until the train had traveled 189 feet PASSED the center of the crossing.”
Rosecrans and her mother, Rebecca Dresser, who had initiated the suit, were pleased with the outcome. News media phone calls to UP’s attorneys in Omaha were not returned, while a Union Pacific representative declined to comment on the court’s decision.