BY LEANN DILBECK –
An 18-wheeler attempting to cross the railroad tracks onto Polk Road 13 in Wickes Monday afternoon became lodged when the jacks of his trailer hung on the tracks. Before the driver could receive assistance to free the truck, it was struck by a KCS train that separated the trailer from the truck, hitting with such force that the truck literally spun 180 degrees before coming to rest facing the train. The driver had exited the vehicle attempting to stop the train so there were no injuries as a result of the accident.
Polk County Sheriff Mike Godfrey said this is the third similar accident that he is aware of at this particular crossing and is very grateful that this did not result in any injuries.
Polk County Office of Emergency Management Coordinator James Reeves said that the truck was carrying two drums of chemical but they were fortunately not damaged in the incident. The owner took possession of the drums.
Reeves, also grateful there were no injuries, said that the driver had been stuck at the location for some time, seeking assistance, before the train came. Reeves explained that a call to 911 could have possibly stopped the train before the collision.
Residents in the area are eager to see signage erected at the crossing to either prohibit or warn trucks of the danger.
Godfrey explained that while local people know of the danger to certain type trailers, non-local truckers do not and many are directed by GPS as identifying the route as the shortest.
Polk County Judge Brandon Ellison explained that the crossing is near the highway and it goes straight from being highway right-a-way to railroad right-a-way and that technically he didn’t have jurisdiction. He said he is aware of the number of incidents at the crossing and plans to address it by placing a warning sign at the intersection.