(Homer, Nebraska – July 21, 2014)
According to Federal Railroad Administration figures, daily averages of 11 BNSF Railway freight trains pass through the railroad’s corridor through Dakota County, NE at a top permissible speed of 49 mph. Yet, there are numerous county crossings that do not have any active warning devices, such as lights and gates that can prevent up to 96% of accidents.
On Monday afternoon around 5:00 P.M., CDT, at one of those dangerous, and unguarded crossings (BNSF rails and Dakota County’s 225th Street), a tamper/liner/ballast regulator type caravan crushed an 18-wheeler, injuring its driver.
Semi driver John Levasseur, 45, of Sioux City, IA, attempted to cross the tracks and turn north on U.S. Highway 77, which parallels the BNSF rail line through Dakota County, only to have the maintenance “train” crash into his side-dump trailer, resulting in both heavy damage to the vehicle as well as serious injury to its driver.
Levasseur was airlifted by helicopter to the Mercy Medical Center in Sioux City, IA, where he was admitted in undisclosed condition for treatment of undescribed injuries.
On June 10 of this year, a Dakota City, NE semi driver lost his life in a fiery collision at the intersection of BNSF rails and Dakota County’s 190th Street, only a few miles from Monday’s accident. The common denominator between the two tragedies was the total lack of active warning devices at either crossing.