(Holland, Texas – April 25, 2019)
The driver of a 2007 maroon Ford SUV was killed last Thursday morning about 10:53 AM, CDT when he attempted to cross Union Pacific Railroad tracks on the unguarded crossing of Mills Lane near the Bell County, TX community of Holland.
The SUV driven by 36-year-old Temple, TX resident Jesse Uhrig was hit by the Amtrak Chicago-bound Texas Eagle. The Amtrak train had 73 passengers and 11 crew members on board at the time of the collision. The eastbound victim was driving into the blazing morning sun, and probably never knew the train was there until it was upon him.
Another critical factor in the crash was, as pointed out by Temple Daily Telegraph Reporter Deborah McKeon, that “The railroad crossing at Mills Lane has no crossing arms (nor does it have flashing lights).” It is virtually certain that if this crossing was equipped with active warning devices, such as lights and gates, this collision would not have occurred. Both Union Pacific and Operation Lifesaver all know that 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%.
Federal Railroad Administration records reveal Union Pacific reports a daily average of eight Amtrak, Union Pacific and BNSF trains that pass over the railroad crossing at a maximum speeds of 70 mph.
The tragedy was only the first highway vehicle/train collision to occur there.