(Dakota City, Nebraska – June 10, 2014)
The driver of an eastbound 18-wheeler died in a fiery collision with a northbound BNSF freight train just south of Dakota City, NE Tuesday evening At about 8:30 P.M., CDT at the dangerous and unguarded intersection of 190th Street and BNSF tracks. The train struck the cab of the tractor, which subsequently exploded, was dragged a considerable distance down the track, and caught fire. The driver was ejected upon impact.
The Dakota County Sheriff’s Office reported that the driver, James Hubbard of Dakota City, was dead before emergency responders arrived. One witness reported multiple explosions from the vehicle after it was struck by the train, which appeared to be carrying tank cars of crude oil.
The accident was the second recorded at the crossing, which has no active, automatic protective devices such as flashing lights, bells and crossing gates. The Federal Railroad Administration says is a daily average of 11 trains which cross there at a top allowable speed of 49 mph. It is virtually certain that lights and gates would have prevented this incident. Both BNSF 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%.
Assisting the sheriff’s office in investigating the tragedy was the Nebraska State Patrol.