(Topeka, Kansas – July 18, 2023)
A 67-year-old truck driver and resident of Topeka, KS was killed yesterday in a collision with a Union Pacific train at the non-gated or lit crossing near the Bettis Asphalt and Concrete Supply plants in West Topeka. According to reports, the driver, Carl Myles, was driving a concrete truck when he exited the concrete and asphalts plants and was heading north when he was struck by an eastbound train at a crossing. The Union Pacific crossing is near Water Works Dr. just off I-70 and SW MacVicar Ave in Topeka.
The only way to enter or leave the concrete plant is to go over this very dangerous Union Pacific railroad crossing. The crossing is also a double-main line tracks, meaning that trains can operate in either direction on either track at high rates of speed. There have been at least nine prior collisions at this crossing, resulting in multiple injuries and deaths. A daily average of eighteen trains travel over this double track crossing at speeds up to 70 mph.
Despite the high frequency and speed operations and the crossing being the only means of egress and ingress for heavy, slow-moving vehicles into the Bettis concrete plant, both Union Pacific and the industries, Bettis and Concrete Supply, have refused to install lights and gates at this crossing. It is virtually certain that lights and gates could have prevented this tragedy and the countless before it. Studies have demonstrated that the installation of lights and gates to sign only crossings can reduce the frequency of collisions by up to 90%.
Pottroff & Karlin has represented individuals who were injured and family members of individuals killed at this dangerous crossing. We are all too familiar with the perilous situation truck drivers are forced to endure by having to traverse this crossing to pick up or drop off a load at the Bettis plant. Lights and gates are desperately needed at this crossing. Union Pacific is the largest freight railroad in the United States and Bettis and Concrete Supply are both large asphalt and concrete companies in Eastern Kansas. Yet, their refusal to address the safety deficiencies at this crossing continues to unnecessarily put Topeka motorists in dangerous, life-threatening situations.