Popular College Cheerleader Dies at BNSF Texas Crossing
(Canyon, Texas – September 25, 2012)
A 21-year-old sophomore cheerleader for the West Texas A&M University Buffaloes died early Tuesday morning, just after midnight, when her car was struck on the driver’s side by a westbound Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight train going 40 mph at the crossing of 4th Street and BNSF tracks in Canyon, TX.
Shelbi McClure of Lubbock, TX, was studying pre-nursing and was a member of Chi Omega sorority. Chi Omega President Krista Carver described her as “an asset to our chapter”.
The crossing where McClure was killed is of a two lane blacktop road where a double-track main line runs an average of 86 trains across 4th Street daily at a top speed of 70 mph. According to BNSF Railway Spokesman Joe Faust, the train that killed Shelbi was traveling 40 mph, and that she attempted to go through the gates as they closed. The gates cover nearly the entire two lanes of 4th Street, and if they were not fully lowered and in place, and the victim was hit by a train at that speed, serious questions must exist in regard to the gate’s mechanism and timing.
Faust said that BNSF – not the Texas Dept. of Public Safety Highway Patrol nor the Canyon Police Dept., both of which responded to the tragedy – is reviewing surveillance footage from the camera mounted in the nose of the lead BNSF locomotive.
McClure’s best friend, Allison Ashby, said that Shelbi was studying nursing because “She had an interest in helping people,” but that “Cheering was just where her heart was,” as she had been a competitive cheerleader since the age of 10.
“She did a wonderful job for me,” WTA&M Cheerleading Coach Nathan Gonzales remarked. “She always had a smile on her face.”
According to a publication issued by the school’s administration, a candlelight vigil was scheduled for Tuesday night at the school’s pedestrian mall, and moments of silence would be observed at both Tuesday’s volleyball contest and Saturday’s football game to honor the victim.