(Schertz, Texas – November 24, 2011)
There are no USDOT-required signs at the FM 3009 (Roy Richard Drive) crossing of Union Pacific tracks in Schertz, TX, warning truckers of the possibility of their rigs getting stuck on the crested crossing, but posting them could have avoided considerable grief Thursday (Thanksgiving Day) afternoon about 3:20 P.M., when a semi-trailer loaded with a large, track-type crane got hung up on that very crossing, only to be hit and literally destroyed by a 134-car UPRR coal train.
Regardless of the existence of lights, bells and gates, the warning that could and should have prevented the accident, had it been in place, was the sign. According to Union Pacific spokeswoman Raquel Espinoza-Williams, it was unknown how long the rig had been stuck, but the train crew reported the driver was attempting to dislodge the trailer by rocking it back and forth.
The unidentified driver jumped from the cab of the truck before the train hit it, heavily damaging the truck’s tractor, trailer and load as it toppled the crane onto its top. Meanwhile, the impact caused the train’s lead locomotive to separate from the rest of the consist and travel several hundred feet down the track beyond the site of the wreck.
Espinoza-Williams said two of the train’s three locomotives received significant damage, and that some diesel fuel was spilled from the truck’s saddle tanks.
The crossing has now experienced five accidents in the past 10 years, none of them fatal.