(Goltry, Oklahoma – January 1, 2017)
A 33-year-old Cleo Springs, OK resident was killed last Monday afternoon about 4:23 P.M., CST, when his 2009 Dodge Ram pickup truck was hit by a northwest-bound Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight train. The collision occured at the dangerous, unguarded and extremely angular crossing of BNSF rails and Alfalfa County Road 740 (also listed as CR 2740) just east of Goltry, OK.
Timothy J. Leierer was approaching the crossing and likely was never aware of the train before he was hit. The train involved in the collision was one of 18 BNSF freights which cross there daily at maximum allowable speeds of 49 mph. The road/rail intersection does not have any active warning devices, such as lights and gates, to warn drivers of a train’s approach. It is virtually certain that if this crossing was protected by active warning devices, this collision would not have occurred. Both the BNSF 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%.
An earth berm also shields the view to the east for southbound drivers as was the case Monday. In addition, the BNSF rails cross CR 740 at an extremely obtuse angle, adding to the difficulty for sight distance motorist view of approaching trains.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol and Alfalfa County Sheriff’s Office investigated the New Year’s Day tragedy.