(Shelton, Nebraska – January 8, 2013)
Although Loree Gard’s 2003 Dodge Ram pickup truck was virtually destroyed when the Shelton, NE woman’s vehicle was cut in half by a 53-car Union Pacific container train traveling from California to Chicago at the dangerous, unguarded crossing of Sodtown Road and UP railroad tracks in Buffalo County, NE was last Friday afternoon, information on the victim’s condition was still not forthcoming from Kearney Good Samaritan Hospital as late as Tuesday morning.
As Gard was wearing her seat belt, the cab portion of her truck, with her inside, was ripped from the frame and knocked or carried by the train more than 50 feet east of the point of impact.
The Sodtown Road crossing, just east of Gibbon, NE, is “protected” solely by standard, passive signage such as railroad crossbuck and highway stop signs and lacks any form of active devices such as flashing lights, bells or crossing gates even though the double-tracked intersection carries an average of 49 trains daily at top speeds of 40 mph, and has a recent history of serious nature regarding accidents and design.
U.S. Highway 30 parallels the UP main line less than 100’ to the north, and the angle of the Sodtown Road crossing is an acute 60 degrees in two quadrants. Just this past June 19, a flatbed semi-trailer truck carrying an excavator valued at nearly three-quarters of a million dollars was struck and destroyed by a 123-car UP freight train being pulled by three locomotives at 38 mph.