(Blue Earth, Minnesota – October 8, 2013)
The driver of a semi-trailer truck stopped his northbound vehicle at the dangerous and unguarded crossing of County Road 13 (430th Avenue) and Union Pacific tracks. Then, blinded by the early morning sun, he cautiously proceeded across but was struck at 7:40 A.M. by one of the four trains that pass through that corridor daily at top speeds of 49 mph, destroying his empty trailer.
Lowell Robert Flohrs, 66, of Fairmont, MN, barely got his truck tractor across the double-tracked crossing before the eastbound train struck his grain hauler trailer. He was uninjured but severely shaken by the experience.
Only passive railroad cross-buck signs are present at the dangerous and unguarded CR 13/UP crossing, which has now recorded four accidents. It is virtually certain that lights and gates would have prevented this incident. With the sun being a serious factor Tuesday, the presence of such automatic warning signals would certainly have prevented the near tragedy. Both Union Pacific and Operation Lifesaver know 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%.