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Jazzmaster

UP Freight Train Strikes Midland TX Veteran's Float

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Wow. That's terrible. They were on their way to a party for them too... I wonder if ether the driver was careless, or maybe didn't see or hear the train. The engineers couldn't be blamed for this, though. A fully loaded freight train needs about a mile to stop completely.

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That is a true tragedy. Those unfortunate veterens did not deserve that, nor did their families. How irresponsible it was for that driver to cause such an atrocious incicident. The investigators said that the train and infrastructure worked properly so I hope that the driver is convicted of mulitple counts of manslaughter/homocide/murder if he is not dead. How could he be so irresponsible! Those veterens devoted so much of themselves to protect this once great nation only to see their demise in a train collision. My hearts go out to the surviviors and the families of the victims and I pray for all of them.

--Ocram

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That is a true tragedy. Those unfortunate veterens did not deserve that, nor did their families. How irresponsible it was for that driver to cause such an atrocious incicident. The investigators said that the train and infrastructure worked properly so I hope that the driver is convicted of mulitple counts of manslaughter/homocide/murder if he is not dead. How could he be so irresponsible! Those veterens devoted so much of themselves to protect this once great nation only to see their demise in a train collision. My hearts go out to the surviviors and the families of the victims and I pray for all of them.

--Ocram

Thank you Simtropolis, and Ocram for your actions regarding my other post.

As for your point and opinion, I believe it is pre-mature. Just because U.P. is saying all the equipment was working doesn't mean that it was. I live a few hours from there, and there have been conflicting reports to me from people on the scene (not a news report but actual eyewitnesses). As for the driver, they will have to live with this for the rest of their lives, regardless of whether there was any malfunction, and I can assure you, jail would be the least of their punishment if it is deemed necessary and appropriate. News this soon after an incident is rarely correct and complete, so let's give it some time to get the facts before we convict anyone.

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Time will tell the facts of this terrible accident. Whatever the circumstances were, taking an unwieldy vehicle across a set of active rail tracks calls for great caution on the part of the driver. In the end, I expect the driver was at fault, and the blame game usually played by Americans in these circumstances will just wash out.

Condolences to the dead and injured.

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1. Thank you for informing me.

2. I did not report or delete any posts. Twice, my posts were deleted.

3. I hope the investigation offers closure.

4. Thank you for giving me the perspective from a local. When I went to the county fair, my family saw many cars lined up on the roads and some of them illegally stopped on top of rail road tracks. That is why I believe the truck driver was at fault.

5. I agree that it is too early to blame someone yet but the meager facts seem to add up to making the truck driver was at fault.

Sincerely,

--Ocram

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Well that's certainly on the list of worst possible groups to get into a deadly accident.

This is an odd situation indeed from a "how did that happen" perspective, though. The picture in the article shows the gate and lights working - and intact, so the truck did not drive through it (which you'd have to be pretty oblivious to do). This leaves us with two likely possibilities:

1) the truck stopped on the tracks before the lights came on

2) the lights were delayed in activating

Possiblity 1, of course, is why you never stop on a railroad crossing. So there's some definite driver negligence there if that's what happened.

As for possibility 2, that'd be a weird occurrence but all it would take is for the front part of the train to fail to trigger the sensors.

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  • Original Poster
  • Well that's certainly on the list of worst possible groups to get into a deadly accident.

    This is an odd situation indeed from a "how did that happen" perspective, though. The picture in the article shows the gate and lights working - and intact, so the truck did not drive through it (which you'd have to be pretty oblivious to do). This leaves us with two likely possibilities:

    1) the truck stopped on the tracks before the lights came on

    2) the lights were delayed in activating

    Possiblity 1, of course, is why you never stop on a railroad crossing. So there's some definite driver negligence there if that's what happened.

    As for possibility 2, that'd be a weird occurrence but all it would take is for the front part of the train to fail to trigger the sensors.

    It's possible it was delayed, but I really can't think of any times a crossing guard has actually failed. I might need to look into the statistics more, but almost every grade crossing accident involving that I've ever personally seen or heard of, was the fault of the motor vehicle driver, and not the freight operator/railroad engineer. It's almost scary to see just how easy people can lose focus and get hit by a train, like here [link].

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    It's possible it was delayed, but I really can't think of any times a crossing guard has actually failed.

    There was one incident that was featured on a documentary about railroad crossing accidents on the Discovery Times channel back in the day, which featured videotaped footage of railroad crossings that failed to activate ( the corridor the incident happened on was part of a high speed rail feasibility test ). In that incident two teens were hit by an Amtrak train as they drove over the railroad tracks, the cause a freight railroad employee improperly set jumpers at the crossing. This of course unintentionally turned the crossing into what is known as a black crossing, one which must normally be flagged prior to trains proceeding through.

    There were also a series of incidents several years back on Long Island caused by heat if I recall.

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    Apparently there are ~2,000 incidents of train/car collision each year in the US and ~200-300 deaths from them. The number has dropped considerably over the past 30 years, which is good... still, though. In an ideal world, railroads would be built to be entirely grade separated. Physical considerations sometimes make this impractical, and cost sometimes makes it not worth it. But I would probably be in favor of any project to eliminate a grade crossing. Good for traffic as well as safety.

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    According to the article:

    The float was among two flatbed tractor-trailers carrying veterans and their spouses. Police said the first truck safely crossed the railroad tracks, but the second truck's trailer was still on the crossing as the train approached.

    "The train honked its horn, but the 18-wheeler could not go anywhere because of the other one being right in front of it," said Daniel Quinonez, who was in traffic that had been stopped by sheriff's deputies to allow the parade to pass.

    If that is indeed the case, the driver broke a basic rule: Do not start crossing a railroad track unless you are certain that you can complete the crossing.

    We have a local intersection where traffic tends to get backed up over the tracks. Some people have the sense to stop before crossing the tracks to join the bumper-to-bumper traffic on the other side. Others, not so much.

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    If that is indeed the case, the driver broke a basic rule: Do not start crossing a railroad track unless you are certain that you can complete the crossing.

    We have a local intersection where traffic tends to get backed up over the tracks. Some people have the sense to stop before crossing the tracks to join the bumper-to-bumper traffic on the other side. Others, not so much.

    For whatever reason, this is a rule that people don't seem to get. The signs which say "DO NOT STOP ON TRACKS" are, like so many regulatory signs, readily ignored by drivers around here. I have even been honked at for stopping before a railroad crossing when there was stopped traffic on the other side. New York drivers... :whatevs:

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    Reporting from the area: It was indeed the driver's fault. He was stopped on the tracks when the crossing gates started coming down. The space he had given himself to maneuver combined with the lack of time between the gate coming down and the train striking the Semi trailer caused the incident. The driver is, to say the least, extremely remorseful, and would both take it back if he could, and also trade his life in a blink to bring the victims back. I have been told he will be accessed fines, had his commercial driver's license revoked, and is open for other punishments, but given his lack of intent, remorseful attitude, and closeness to the victims and their families, I don't believe he ought to be put in jail or anything. Our attitude here in West Texas is based on our faith. Forgiveness and grace will heal many more wounds than harsh condemnation of a simple, albeit costly mistake.

    As to how accurate this post is, it is admittedly based on local here-say, and not an official news report. I don't know the driver or his family, but a friend of mine's grandfather was on the other semi, the one in front of the semi that was hit, and this is what his family is reporting.

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    Forgiveness is good. It is also one of the worst things you can do to an enemy, so this driver is lucky he is not seen as one. The law is unforgiving, however.

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    Forgiveness is good. It is also one of the worst things you can do to an enemy, so this driver is lucky he is not seen as one. The law is unforgiving, however.

    Clearly, you don't know any Texans. And not to get to controversial or anything, but most people around here, myself included, would disagree. We believe forgiveness is the best thing you could do to an enemy. Healing can only take place after forgiveness, and everyone needs forgiveness of something. That's the way I see it, anyway...

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    Forgiveness is good. It is also one of the worst things you can do to an enemy, so this driver is lucky he is not seen as one. The law is unforgiving, however.

    Clearly, you don't know any Texans. And not to get to controversial or anything, but most people around here, myself included, would disagree. We believe forgiveness is the best thing you could do to an enemy. Healing can only take place after forgiveness, and everyone needs forgiveness of something. That's the way I see it, anyway...

    There are enemies and there are criminals. They are not the same thing.

    I don't know how the laws are worded down there but I could see "negligent homicide" being applied.

    Speaking as someone who lives outside of Texas, I don't understand how all this forgiveness fits in with having the highest rate of capital punishment. But that's different issue . . .

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    Forgiveness is good. It is also one of the worst things you can do to an enemy, so this driver is lucky he is not seen as one. The law is unforgiving, however.

    Clearly, you don't know any Texans. And not to get to controversial or anything, but most people around here, myself included, would disagree. We believe forgiveness is the best thing you could do to an enemy. Healing can only take place after forgiveness, and everyone needs forgiveness of something. That's the way I see it, anyway...

    There are enemies and there are criminals. They are not the same thing.

    I don't know how the laws are worded down there but I could see "negligent homicide" being applied.

    Speaking as someone who lives outside of Texas, I don't understand how all this forgiveness fits in with having the highest rate of capital punishment. But that's different issue . . .

    In a real conflict, forgiving your enemies provokes them beyond belief. Think about it.

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    I don't know how the laws are worded down there but I could see "negligent homicide" being applied.

    In Texas, the concept is called "criminally negligent homicide." To successfully be charged, the prosecutor would have to prove "criminal negligence." To do so, the prosecutor would have to demonstrate:

    -the defendant could be reasonably expected to be aware of substantial risk that the result would occur

    -that the defendant's course of action constituted a gross deviation from what the standard person would have done under the same circumstances

    Considering the number of people that show complete disregard for traffic safety around rail lines, I feel like a prosecutor would have difficulty getting such a charge to stick.

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    I don't know how the laws are worded down there but I could see "negligent homicide" being applied.

    In Texas, the concept is called "criminally negligent homicide." To successfully be charged, the prosecutor would have to prove "criminal negligence." To do so, the prosecutor would have to demonstrate:

    -the defendant could be reasonably expected to be aware of substantial risk that the result would occur

    -that the defendant's course of action constituted a gross deviation from what the standard person would have done under the same circumstances

    Considering the number of people that show complete disregard for traffic safety around rail lines, I feel like a prosecutor would have difficulty getting such a charge to stick.

    So, since many people disregard traffic safety laws, it's okay if someone does so and people happen to get killed?

    I'm not out to get the guy but the reasoning "oh, well, everyone does it; too bad it was fatal this time" doesn't make sense to me.

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    I don't know how the laws are worded down there but I could see "negligent homicide" being applied.

    In Texas, the concept is called "criminally negligent homicide." To successfully be charged, the prosecutor would have to prove "criminal negligence." To do so, the prosecutor would have to demonstrate:

    -the defendant could be reasonably expected to be aware of substantial risk that the result would occur

    -that the defendant's course of action constituted a gross deviation from what the standard person would have done under the same circumstances

    He had a commercial trunk license. If you have a drivers license your legally obligated to know and follow the rules of the road.

    IE he should have know better.

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    Frankly, instead of all this finger pointing (a popular sport in America) why not just consider this an unfortunate terrible accident, and get on with healing.

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    Frankly, instead of all this finger pointing (a popular sport in America) why not just consider this an unfortunate terrible accident, and get on with healing.

    It is worthwhile to learn from mistakes. Determining what went wrong can help prevent it from happening again.

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  • Frankly, instead of all this finger pointing (a popular sport in America) why not just consider this an unfortunate terrible accident, and get on with healing.

    There's a difference between "finger pointing" and holding people responsible for their actions. I don't think there needs to be "vengeance", but the driver of the truck is responsible for his own actions, and those actions cost people lives. There's nothing wrong with desiring a little justice.

    EDIT: I do understand that no 'legal action' can reverse what was done. But at the very least, the driver needs to understand what he did wrong. As someone who drives a commercial vehicle, one would think he understands how dangerous railroads can be above most 'normal drivers'. That's all I'm saying.

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    Really, there can be no justice in a situation like this. The driver isn't a bad man, on the contrary, most people I've talked to that know him think highly of them, and don't have anger towards him, but sadness. He is a vet himself, and he cared deeply for his fellow veterans. Regardless of whether he is charged or convicted of something, he has to live with his mistake. It wasn't made with malice, or an attitude of wanton disregard for rules. He wasn't drunk, or high, or even drowsy. It was a mistake, one that took a mere 30-60 seconds to make and reap. I'm not saying he's not responsible, I'm simply saying that in this situation, taking into consideration who the victims were, who the driver is, and how the people involved feel about the whole situation, that legal punishment is 1. insignificant next to the psychological impact it's having on the driver, and 2. inappropriate.

    As for our death row: good point Meg. Capital punishment and forgiveness don't go hand in hand at all. My only retort is that if you looked at the statistics, most people put on death row in Texas don't come from this part of the state, which culturally is as different as people from Brooklyn and the Hamptons, or D.C. and rural Virginia. My earlier comment was inadvertently misleading in that it was really overly broad in ascribing the notion of forgiveness to the overall state, and not to the West Texas area. Most death row inmates come from the larger cities of Dallas/Ft. Worth, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio, all of which are 5-10 hours away by vehicle, even with our high speed limits. That's not to say that nobody on death row has come from the area, or that everyone living here would agree with my statement about forgiveness. I'm simply trying to provide greater insight into the general cultural beliefs of the area, and very specifically of the people involved in the tragedy.

    As for learning from the mistake, that is a simple, but important point: NEVER start crossing a RR track unless you are CERTAIN you can make it completely across. I'm sure everyone reading and participating in this forum would agree, and didn't need me or anyone else to tell them such is the 'moral of the story'.

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    I certainly agree that the driver needs to be sanctioned. Loss of his commercial licence, and therefore his livelihood, plus (perhaps) a not too onerous fine should do the trick. One hopes that he is not then subjected to that favourite American passtime, private actions for wrongful death.

    He is already full of remorse, and the penalties under the law should be enough. There is hardly any point in flogging a dead horse.

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