Railroad News

Second Fatality in Texas at Busy BNSF Crossing

(Canyon, Texas – February 26, 2016)

A 49-year-old bicyclist died early Saturday morning at Northwest Texas Hospital in Amarillo, TX while he was being treated for injuries he suffered after he awaited the passage of an eastbound BNSF freight train at the double-tracked crossing of 15th Street and BNSF rails in Canyon, TX at about 10:30 P.M., CST Friday evening. As he proceeded northbound across the tracks after the first train, he was struck by a train in the opposite direction.

John Griswold of Canyon was struck after “His front wheel had already crossed the furthest north rail, and he didn’t see the westbound train,” explained Canyon Chief of Police Dale Davis.

The tragedy not only represented the eighth incident to occur at the crossing which, although fully signalized with flashing lights and crossing gates, but also carried an almost-exact set of surrounding circumstances as another fatality. The other fatality occurred when a female pedestrian was attempting to cross at the same spot on April 18, 2010, waited for the passage on one train, and then was struck by a hidden train which approached on the second set of tracks but in the opposite direction.

The BNSF/15th Street intersection is in a Federal Railroad Administration-authorized “Quiet Zone”, where approaching trains are not required to sound their locomotive warning horns, and according to the FRA, is crossed daily by an average of 86 BNSF freight trains at a top-authorized speed of 70 mph.

The Canyon Police Chief Davis responded to the reporter’s question regarding calls from the public for additional signage at the fatal location by saying “There is adequate signing out there. As a matter of fact, the City of Canyon has asked for more signing, and we have put up more signage there than is required.”

There has also been another collision at this crossing that that occurred almost 10 years to the day – February 27, 2006, — to Friday’s tragedy, when a motorist was struck by a railroad track-mounted Maintenance of Way Ballast Regulator which failed to activate any of the massive conglomeration of gate and light warnings.