(Alamogordo, New Mexico – March 15, 2013)
A southbound Union Pacific freight train travelling at 63 mph struck and killed the driver of a white 2011 Ford pickup truck Friday morning at about 9:20 A.M. at the dangerous, unguarded crossing of Taylor Ranch Road and UPRR tracks just south of Alamogordo, NM.
Baldomero P. Barajas, 60, of Alamogordo was on his way to a work assignment in the truck owned by his employer, Home Service Contractors, and was eastbound on Taylor Ranch Road, having just turned off of U.S. Highway 54, which generally parallels Union Pacific railroad tracks from Pratt, KS to El Paso, TX.
Sgt. Marc Davis of the New Mexico State Police said he believed the victim was concentrating on the job ahead of him and did not notice the train until it was too late to stop. He said the locomotive engineer blew the train’s horn and saw Barajas turn and look at him just before impact.
The Taylor Ranch Road/UPRR intersection accommodates a daily average of 13 trains, and was formerly a 50 mph maximum speed corridor, but was at some time in the recent past increased to 70 mph. The crossing’s sole protection consists of standard, passive railroad crossbuck and highway “yield” signs, having no active protective devices such as flashing lights, bells or crossing gates, the likes of which railroad sources claim could eliminate more than 90% of all train/highway vehicular accidents.