The Norman Transcript

Nation/World

November 18, 2012

War-time instinct takes over in Texas train crash

(Continued)

MIDLAND, Texas —

NTSB investigators have not determined if the gate and other protective measures were updated when the speed limit was raised, Rosekind said. The agency plans to test signals for abnormalities Saturday.

Shoemaker said the flatbed truck she was riding on had just crossed the tracks and was moving slowly when she heard a train coming and looked back to see the lowered crossing gates bouncing up and down on the people seated on the float behind her.

Witnesses described people screaming as the warning bells at the crossing went off and the train blasted its horn.

Daniel Quinonez, who was waiting in his vehicle as the parade went by, said the float on the tracks could not go anywhere because of the one right in front of it.

“It was a horrible accident to watch happen right in front of me,” he said. “I just saw the people on the semi truck’s trailer panic, and many started to jump off the trailer. But it was too late for many of them.”

Another witness, Joe Cobarobio, said only a few seconds elapsed between the time the crossing gates came down and the train slammed into the flatbed truck with a “giant cracking sound.”

Federal Railroad Administration records reviewed by The Associated Press show there were 10 collisions at the crossing between 1979 and 1997. But no accidents had happened in the past 15 years, the NTSB’s Rosekind said.

Six drivers were injured in those accidents. The trains involved were moving slowly at the time, between 15 and 25 mph.

A key question for investigators is whether, after the speed limit was raised, the timing of the crossing gates was changed to give cars and trucks enough time to clear the tracks, Robert Chipkevich, who headed NTSB’s rail investigations unit until retiring in 2010, said in an interview.

Investigators also will look at whether traffic lights in town prevented the flatbed truck in front from moving ahead, he said.

For local news and more, subscribe to The Norman Transcript Smart Edition, or our print edition.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Nation/World
  • Air Algerie jet crashes with 116 on board

    OUAGADOUGO, Burkina Faso — An Air Algerie jetliner carrying 116 people crashed Thursday in a rainstorm over restive Mali, and its wreckage was found near the border of neighboring Burkina Faso — the third major international aviation ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Very bad week: Airline disasters come in a cluster

    WASHINGTON — Nearly 300 passengers perish when their plane is shot out of the sky. Airlines suspend flights to Israel’s largest airport after rocket attacks. Two airliners crash during storms. Aviation has suffered one of its worst weeks ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Hong Kong firms on edge as democracy rally blockade looms

    HONG KONG — As activists vow to shut down Hong Kong’s financial district in protest at China’s attempt to hobble democratic elections in the city, businessman Bernard Chan is preparing for the worst. Chan’s investment company has added ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Planes with Ukraine bodies arrive in the Netherlands

    KHARKIV, Ukraine — Two more military aircraft carrying remains of victims from the Malaysian plane disaster arrived in the Netherlands on Thursday, while Australian and Dutch diplomats joined to promote a plan for a U.N. team to secure the ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Iraq elects new president as attacks kill dozens

    BAGHDAD — Iraqi lawmakers elected a veteran Kurdish politician on Thursday to replace long-serving Jalal Talabani as the country’s new president in the latest step toward forming a new government. But a series of attacks killed dozens of ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Doctor fired back at gunman

    DARBY, Pa. — A doctor grazed by gunfire from a patient who had entered his office in a suburban hospital’s psychiatric unit stopped him by returning fire with his own gun and injuring him, authorities said....

    July 25, 2014

  • UN school in Gaza caught in cross-fire

    GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — A U.N. school in Gaza crowded with hundreds of Palestinians seeking refuge from fierce fighting came under fire Thursday, killing at least 15 civilians and leaving a sad tableau of blood-spattered pillows, blankets ...

    July 25, 2014

  • Tornado slams Virginia campground

    CAPE CHARLES, Va. — The sky turned black and cellphones pinged with emergency messages. Moments later, a tornado ripped through a sprawling, carnival-like campground Thursday, snapping dozens of trees and flipping over RVs....

    July 25, 2014

  • Arizona inmate dies two hours after execution begins

    PHOENIX — A condemned Arizona inmate gasped and snorted for more than an hour and a half during his execution Wednesday before he died in an episode sure to add to the scrutiny surrounding the death penalty in the U.S....

    July 24, 2014

  • 48 dead after Taiwan plane crash

    TAIPEI, Taiwan — Family members of victims of a plane crash were flying to the small Taiwanese island today where the plane had unsuccessfully attempted to land in stormy weather, killing 48. There were 10 survivors, and authorities were ...

    July 24, 2014