(Rush Springs, Oklahoma – February 26, 2016)
The 55-year-old driver of a 2006 Chevrolet pickup truck was still alive, but critically injured and trapped in the wreckage, after his eastbound vehicle was hit and dragged over a half mile by a northbound Union Pacific train hauling 65 freight cars at the dangerous and unguarded crossing of Grady County Road 1510 (Rockford Road) at about 12:29 P.M., CST last Friday afternoon.
The collision sent Martin Millster of Goldsby, OK to The University of Oklahoma Medical Center in Oklahoma City, where he was admitted for treatment of head, trunk and internal injuries. This was the second collision to take place at the roadway/railway intersection, where there are no active warning devices, such as lights and gates, to warn motorists of the four UPRR trains that Federal Railroad Administration statistics say cross there daily at a maximum speed of 49 mph.
It is virtually certain that if this crossing was equipped with lights and gates, this tragedy 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%.
It took Rush Springs volunteer firefighters using the Hurst “Jaws-of-Life” tool more than 35 minutes to free the victim from his heavily-damaged pickup as the train impacted the passenger side of the highway vehicle, which remained impaled upon the nose of the locomotive 1,698 feet beyond the point of impact.