Man injured when train hits truck

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Steamboat Springs Fire and Rescue personnel carry Robert Pensack from the accident scene Tuesday morning after Pensack's pickup was struck by a train. The accident, at Mount Werner Road and Routt County Road 14, left Pensack with serious injuries.

— A 56-year-old Steamboat Springs man was left with serious injuries Tuesday morning after a train struck the man's truck near Routt County Road 14 and Mount Werner Road.

Colorado State Patrol Trooper Rick Kaspar said Robert Pensack was driving his silver 2002 Dodge truck across the railroad track on Mount Werner Road just before C.R. 14 when he was struck on his passenger side by a Union Pacific train that was coming from the south into Steamboat Springs.

The train dragged Pensack's truck several hundred feet before the truck rolled into a ditch, Kaspar said.

Routt County Sheriff's Office deputies were the first to arrive at the scene, and they said Pensack was out of his truck and walking around when they got there, Kaspar said.

Pensack was taken to Yampa Valley Medical Center to be treated for his injuries. His condition was not available Tuesday. Kaspar said the man was complaining of internal injuries, hip pain and pain on his left side.

Pensack was listed in fair condition Tuesday afternoon, hospital spokeswoman Christine McKelvie said.

Kaspar said the train's engineer and conductor told him they saw Pensack cross the railroad tracks even though the crossing signals were flashing and bells were going off.

There are not railroad arms at that intersection, he said.

Kaspar said Pensack did not appear to be speeding nor did it seem like he sped up to beat the train.

The train's engineer estimated the train was traveling about 49 mph when it hit Pansack's truck, Kaspar said.

During an interview with police, Pensack reportedly told them he didn't see the train "until a fraction of a second before it hit," he said.

The train wasn't able to stop for another 1/3 of a mile after it hit the man's truck, Kaspar said. The train, which consisted of 150 50-ton cars and five 200-ton engines, was empty at the time of the accident.

Kaspar said the early morning sun glare might have hindered Pensack's view.

Pensack has not been cited in the accident, though he may face charges of careless driving or failing to yield to a train, Kaspar said.

Pensack was wearing his seat belt at the time of the accident, and his side door airbags did deploy, Kaspar said.

No other cars were involved in the accident, he said. Traffic in the area was closed until about 3 p.m. Tuesday.

Pensack is a medical doctor though he does not practice at the hospital, she said.

On Pensack's behalf, McKelvie said Pensack is appreciative of his family and friends' support, but is requesting no visitors or phone calls.

Tuesday's train accident was at least the fourth such accident in Routt County since December. In June, Steamboat Springs resident Glenn Barber was driving a 1996 Chevrolet pickup when it was struck by a Union Pacific coal train near the U.S. Highway 40 and Saddle Mountain Ranch railroad crossing west of Steamboat Springs.

State troopers said Barber was inching his pickup toward the tracks when the westbound train hit the vehicle's driver side. The crash pushed the truck down an embankment and into a sign, which caused the truck to roll.

Barber sustained serious injuries to his head, ribs and shoulders and was airlifted to a Fort Collins hospital to be treated for his injuries, troopers said. On Dec. 22, a Union Pacific train hit a truck driven by Steamboat resident Anna Handcock. Handcock told police she couldn't see the train from around a 3-foot snowbank. She was inching her vehicle forward when the train struck it. Handcock and her passenger sustained minor injuries.

On Jan. 14, Steamboat resident Buck Chavarria's pickup was hit by a train when he slid on the icy road. Unable to stop his pickup before reaching the tracks, Chavarria opened the driver-side door and leaped out before the impact. His truck was totaled.

The Dec. 22 and Jan. 14 incidents occurred at the same railroad crossing in the Fish Creek mobile home park in Steamboat.

- To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234 or e-mail adelacruz@steamboatpilot.com

Comments

steamvent 7 years, 11 months ago

Although there is no excuse for crossing railroad tracks once the warning signals have started, why do these trains travel anywhere near 50 mph while proceeding through town? Why do these trains even come through Steamboat? Doubt we'll be loading cattle onto a train any time soon. Pipe dreaming is having the rail run from Oak Creek adjacent to RCR27 and hooking up with the rail system near the mine and then abandoning the current rail to a major valley trail artery. I know, dreaming is free, but the cost of doing this is huge. What's the cost when these trains start killing people? And they will.

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tstone 7 years, 11 months ago

Given the many trains that cross there every day and the volume of heavy traffic on Mount Werner Road from US-40 (and the shopping distric at the base of the ski area towards River Road), I am shocked and appalled that there are not railroad arms at that intersection.

My only question is why such a heavily travelled route -- by both trains and vehicular traffic -- is such an unimproved railroad crossing?

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eastwest 7 years, 11 months ago

Trains do not kill people, people who ignore the warning signs at railroad crossings get killed. I am more concerned about traveling on the same road with a driver who is so distracted by who knows what that he doesn't even see a train coming! I am very glad that the driver was able to get out of his car while waiting for help and that he did not suffer worse injuries.

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