Check out our 2024 Corporate Sustainability Report!

Multiple Injuries, but No Deaths When Train Collides with Truck Crane in Nebraska

Some 21 people were injured August 26 when an Amtrak passenger train collided with a truck crane whose boom had been swung over the railroad tracks at a worksite about four miles west of Benkelman in far southwestern Nebraska, near the state’s border with Colorado. Two locomotives on the 10-car train derailed completely and rolled onto their sides. A baggage car landed at a 45-degree angle, and dormer cars were derailed but remained upright. The last three cars remained upright and on the track. Local news reports say about a quarter mile of track was damaged in the accident.

The train was carrying 175 passengers and 17 crew members at the time of the crash. None of the 21 victims was injured critically. The injured were taken to several hospitals in the area. Uninjured passengers were taken to a hospitality center set up at the local high school before continuing their trips in buses or vans.

The train-crane collision happened about 8:00 a.m. The train was in route from San Francisco to Chicago. It was running several hours behind schedule because of being delayed after hitting an SUV that was stuck and abandoned across the track near Reno, Nev. The train was undamaged in that collision, but the SUV was cut in half.

The crane working west of Benkelman was a Drott Cruze Crane 2510 telescopic-boom truck crane. A three-person crew from G&S Recycling was using it to dismantle an old grain elevator near the railroad track. One crew member was in the cab operating the crane while two others worked in a personnel basket supported by the crane’s boom. Based on news reports and discussion with local news agencies, Maximum Capacity Media believes that a boom-supported platform was in use, but is not certain whether the platform was attached to the boom top or suspended from the crane’s hook.

The truck crane sat between the grain elevator and the train track, and was supported on four outriggers. Because the crane was located close to the building, the operator had to swing the boom in an arc away from it and out over the railroad tracks to reposition the basket and workers from one side of the building to another.

As the boom was being swung over the railroad track, two of the crane’s outriggers sank into soft ground and the crane tilted toward the tracks. The two workers fell out of the basket onto the ground. Neither was reported to be injured seriously. Before the workers could call authorities about the crane boom being across the railroad track, the onrushing train crashed into it.

Although the train reportedly had slowed to about 65 mph by the time it hit the boom, the impact cut the boom in two and tore the crane’s upperworks off of the carrier chassis. The upper end of the boom landed on the far side of the tracks. The lower section of boom, the cab, and the rest of the crane’s upperworks lay as a heap of twisted metal on the same side of the track where the carrier and grain elevator sat.

The Dundy County, Neb., sheriff, the railroad, and OSHA are investigating.

The rules that govern hoisting personnel with a crane can be found in OSHA 29 CFR Subpart CC §1926.1431. They detail the situations in which hoisting people is allowed, the types of hoisting devices allowed, and how those devices are to be used in specific situations.

To read OSHA 29 CFR Subpart CC §1926.1431, click on this link:

Background information for this report was gathered from several news sources and from interviews with reporters who were on the scene.

The Imperial Republican

Omaha World-Herald



Lift & Access is part of the Catalyst Communications Network publication family.