(Cullison. Kansas – August 16, 2012)
The driver of an 18-wheeler tank truck loaded with salt water for oilfield use barely escaped certain death Thursday evening at about 6:37 P.M. when he followed a 90 degree turn on Pratt County SW Road 10 a mile and a half west of Cullison, KS and drove directly in front of an eastbound, mile-long Union Pacific intermodal freight train at the dangerous, unguarded intersection of SW 10 and UPRR tracks.
The driver, Stephen Jackson, 25, of Pratt, KS was also eastbound on SW 10, which makes an abrupt, 90 degree angle as it approaches and crosses the railroad, which closely parallels U.S. Highway 54, and said he never heard or saw the train until his tractor was on the tracks. The crossing is “protected” solely with standard, passive railroad crossbuck signs, and has no active protective system such as flashing lights, bells and gates, the likes of which would have had greater than a 90% accident preventative factor. An average of 9 Union Pacific freight trains use the crossing daily at speeds as high as 70 mph.
The train struck the loaded tank trailer, breaking it in half and flooding both sides of the crossing with salt water. The rig was owned by Siroky Oil Management Corporation of Pratt, KS.
The salt water was “spent” or used in the oil extraction process, and was therefore mixed with oil, the spilling of which caused pollution damage to residential lawns adjacent to the crossing.
Investigating the near-tragedy were the Kansas Highway Patrol and Pratt County Sheriff’s Office.