(Dakota City, Nebraska – August 9, 2018)
Two men were taken to Mercy Medical Center in Sioux City, IA following a violent collision between the eastbound pickup truck they were in and a northbound BNSF freight train. The collision occurred at the dangerous and unguarded road/rail crossing of 200th Street, adjacent to U.S. Highway 77, and BNSF tracks in Dakota County, NE, just south of Dakota City Thursday morning about 11:30 A.M., CDT.
The truck, driven by Rick Fowler, 47, of Moville, IA, and Kevin Rasmussen, 50, of Homer, NE, was struck on the rear passenger side by the train, flipped upside down, and landed in a trackside ditch.
Rasmussen was airlifted to the hospital, while Fowler was transported by ground ambulance to the same care facility, where both were admitted for their crash-related injuries.
The collision was the fourth to occur at the crossing, which is not equipped with any active warning devices, such as lights and gates. According to federal records, a dozen BNSF trains traverse the crossing daily at a maximum speed of 49 mph. The injuries were the fourth and fifth to result from those four train/highway vehicle crashes.
It is virtually certain that if this crossing was equipped with lights and gates, this collision would not have happened. Both BNSF 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%.