(Idaho Falls, Idaho – September 29, 2015)
A westbound semi driven by Trevor Curtis for the Zollinger Construction Co. of Rexburg, ID was struck by an Eastern Idaho Railroad train at about 9:30 A.M., MDT Tuesday morning. The collision took place on Iona Road (33 North) in Bonneville County, ID, near Idaho Falls. The EIRR train is owned and operated by the privately-held, Pittsburg, KS-headquartered Watco Transportation Group since the purchase of the former Union Pacific properties in 1993.
Although Curtis’s injuries were described as “a little shaken up and had a few scratches,” according to Zollinger, Inc. Office Manager Brook Edwards, the crash could have been far worse. “We were lucky the train (one of four that cross there on an average day at a top allowable speed of 20 mph, according to Federal Railroad Administration-catalogued documents) was going as slow as it was,” continued the trucking company official in a statement to The Idaho State Journal. “We’re glad that he’s safe.”
Since the FRA began keeping records of crossing crashes in 1970, there have now been 13 accidents, two of which resulted in single fatalities, and an additional seven non-fatal injuries suffered there.
It is virtually certain that if this crossing was equipped with lights and gates, this accident and the 13 before it would not have happened. Both Watco and Operation Lifesaver 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%.