(Topeka, Kansas – January 12, 2016)
For the seventh time, a semi driver was hit by a train at the dangerous and unguarded intersection of 2450 NW Waterworks Drive and Union Pacific Railroad tracks in north Topeka, Kansas. The driver was seriously injured when, according to Topeka, KS news TV and radio station WIBW, authorities say he did not see or hear a train and proceeded northbound across the tracks and was struck by an eastbound Union Pacific train.
The Bettis Asphalt (Victory Sand) crossing is a private crossing. Yet, even after seven collisions at the crossing, it lacks any form of active protection, such as lights and gates, to warn sem-truck drivers of an approaching train. According to records, there are an average of 16 trains that allegedly can operate at speeds no higher than 50 mph, even though Topeka Capital-Journal News Writer Katie Moore reported that “Initial reports indicated the train to be moving about 70 mph, but authorities on scene couldn’t say how fast the train was going.” Tragically, this collision marks the third serious injury, one of which, on August 11, 2010, was a fatality.
It is virtually certain that if this crossing was equipped with lights and gates, this collision as well as the prior six collisions would not have happened. Both Union Pacific 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%
In the Monday incident, which occurred at about 1:50 P.M., CST, 64-year-old Gregory Sleep of Topeka, driver of the empty, northbound 18 wheeler into the cab, was rushed to Stormont-Vail Hospital for treatment of his undisclosed injuries. As previously mentioned, the train was eastbound when it hit Mr. Sleep’s truck. Sadly, this is the same direction of travel for the truck driver and train as four of the prior six collisions.