When a semi trailer and a train collide, it’s not a pretty picture — especially for the truck. Earlier this month in Kansas, near the border between Butler and Harvey counties, a truck driver died when his big rig, loaded with corn, entered a railroad crossing and was struck by a southbound Union Pacific train. It is believed that the truck driver, Herbert Entz, 80, of Whitewater, Kan., was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident and was killed instantly as the train smashed into the cab section of the truck. Although the force of the impact spilled diesel fuel and the contents of the trailer on the highway and the tracks and carried the truck down the tracks for a short distance, the train did not derail, and no one on the train was injured.
One of the peculiar things about this accident was that witnesses reported that the crossing arms were down and flashing at the time of this mid-day accident. They reported that the driver of the truck appeared to be attempting to drive around the crossing arms. The driver of the train said he saw the truck on the tracks from about a quarter of a mile away, and that he applied his brakes attempting to stop, but was unable to do so in time. After hitting the truck, the train continued forward almost 10 train-car lengths before coming to a stop.
Kansas Highway 196 and the railroad line were closed for the remainder of the afternoon until early that evening while the police conducted their investigation, including a reconstruction of the accident, and crews worked to clean up the diesel spill, the wreckage of the truck and trailer, and all the corn that spilled from it.
While it appears that the truck driver was at fault, the accident remains under investigation, and no charges have been filed.