Railroad News

Widows of Two Agents Sue Union Pacific, Irrigation District For Crossing Tragedy

(Yuma, Arizona – March 7, 2012)

The widows of two federal Border Patrol agents tragically killed by a Union Pacific train hidden from view by a standing train at a dangerous, unguarded private grade crossing owned by the Paloma Irrigation and Drainage District as the two agents assisted in the pursuit of drug traffickers May 12, 2011, have filed suit asking for &17.5 million dollars for each victim from the railroad and the irrigation district.

Yuma Sector Border Patrol Agents Hector Clark, 39, and Eduardo Rojas, 34, were driving beside Union Pacific railroad tracks which had a mile-and-a-half freight train standing on a side track, obscuring them from a 75-car freight train traveling at 62 mph on an adjacent track. When the pair’s government vehicle crossed the UPRR tracks at the dangerous, unguarded, crossbuck sign-only crossing, they were broadsided by the train and died instantly.

Their fellow agents later apprehended the six drug smugglers they were helping pursue, and who were carrying 317 pounds of marijuana when they were caught.

The parked train, it is charged, created an optical illusion of a standing train on a single track at the site of the tragedy, about nine miles west of Gila Bend, AZ.

The lead attorney for the plaintiffs, K. Thomas Slack, noted that among six previous accidents at the same crossing since 1984 was one in 2003 that resulted in the fatality of a 24-year-old victim in which he was able to secure an undisclosed settlement from Union Pacific for his client’s survivors.

Slack said that a large settlement was not necessarily his goal, but rather “What my clients want more than anything…is to fix the crossing. They don’t want this to happen to another family.”