(Gibbon, Nebraska – January 4, 2013)
An as-yet unidentified female from rural Shelton, NE was airlifted to a Kearney, NE hospital Friday afternoon at about 3:50 P.M. after she attempted to cross Union Pacific Railroad tracks at the dangerous, unguarded Sod Town Road intersection two miles east of Gibbon, NE in her Dodge pickup truck, which was split in half by the impact with an eastbound UP freight train and the cab dragged nearly half a mile with the victim still inside.
U.S. Highway 30 parallels UPRR tracks through the area and the Sod Town Road crossing is less than 100 feet north of its oddly-angled intersection with the railroad tracks, and traffic on the highway had to be shut down to accommodate the Good Samaritan Air Care helicopter’s landing before it rushed the woman to Kearney Good Samaritan Hospital for treatment of what were described as “significant” injuries.
The Sod Town Road/UPRR crossing has only standard, passive railroad crossbuck and highway “stop” signs in place to protect motorists from the more than four dozen trains that utilize the double-tracked intersection with the narrow, gravel-surfaced road daily at top speeds of 40 mph. The absence of crossing gates, bells and flashing lights was just as glaring an omission as it was a little over six months ago, when a collision at the same intersection resulted in three-quarters-of-a-million dollars in equipment damage when a semi-trailer truck hauling an excavator on its flatbed was struck by another UP freight train, this one with three locomotives and 123 freight cars traveling at 38 mph on June 19, 2012.