(Hiawatha, Kansas – October 29, 2012)
Two residents of Hiawatha, KS, one a well-known promoter of charitable events, were killed Monday morning at about 10:00 A.M. when their eastbound 1999 Ford F-150 pickup truck was struck by a northbound Union Pacific freight train at the dangerous, unguarded crossing of UPRR tracks and 260th Street just northwest of Hiawatha, KS. The devastating damage to the pickup was so intense that the Kansas Highway Patrol trooper investigating the tragedy was unable to determine which person was driving or whether either was wearing seat belts.
Therman Turner, 59, and Veronica Hogle, 18, both of Hiawatha, KS, were pronounced dead at the scene of the tragedy, of which Brown County Sheriff said, “Right now, we have no idea why” the accident occurred.
The UPRR/260th Street crossing, where there had been a non-fatal injury accident just a little over a year ago (May 23, 2011), is “protected” only by standard, passive railroad crossbuck signs, lacking any form of active protection such as flashing lights, bells or crossing gates, the likes of which railroad sources have claimed would prevent over 90% of such tragedies.
According to the Federal Railroad Administration, four UPRR freight trains cross 260th Street daily at a maximum speed of 40 mph.