Authorities have released the name of the construction worker who was killed in China, TX near Beaumont on Tuesday after his 18-wheeler truck was hit by a train. The accident happened along Highway 90 just west of Beaumont on February 19, 2013 at about 8:00 a.m. and Joseph Grant, 22, of Kountze was identified as the deceased victim.
Scene of the Accident
Texas DPS responded to the scene and provided the details of the accident. 42-year old Jimmy Roberson of Livingston was driving an 18-wheeler along US-90 with fellow construction workers Grant and Andrew Cain, 19, of Beaumont as passengers when the big rig became stuck as it passed over railroad tracks. Two of the men got out of the 18-wheeler to try and push it off the tracks, but it was hit by an oncoming Union Pacific train.
The collision left Grant fatally injured and he passed away at the scene, DPS reports said, while Roberson was injured and taken to a local hospital. Cain was not injured by the impact, though it wasn’t clear where the construction workers were in relation to the truck at the time of the accident. An investigation is currently underway and DPS will likely provide updates as more information is made available.
Part of the DPS’ reports and the news reports have stated that the train should have an “event recorder” installed that would tell the train’s speed at the time of collision and exactly when the brakes were applied. Combined with an on-board camera, this type of technology has really expedited the investigation process for accidents like this. However, when I read this article, I was discouraged by the lack of details that the initial news reports included because it seems that the driver of the car is usually the one to blame when a vehicle is stuck on train tracks. But is this really a fair judgement? Without all the details, it’s certainly hard to give a definite answer to that question.
On one hand, there many factors that could have contributed to the 18-wheeler becoming stuck on the tracks, including maintenance issues or poorly-kept tracks. As this accident happened in a rural area of South Texas, it’s not unreasonable to suspect that the railroad crossing may have had deep ruts or heavily weathered roads surrounding it. On the other hand, though, perhaps that 18-wheeler was having mechanical issues that caused it to stop – be it brakes, tires, or engine problems. My point is that there is much more here than meets the eye and to put blame on the truck driver, though that may very well be the case, is a premature conclusion to say the least. Let the matter be investigated further and allow the evidence to shed light on the accident.
One of the unfortunate outcomes in accidents like these is that the family of a deceased worker or even an injured worker is ultimately treated unfairly because the trucking company refuses to take responsibility for allowing a poorly-operating truck to be driven or for any other instances of negligence. Sometimes, the companies involved (insurance, train, trucking, etc) decide that the accident was out of human control in the sense that it couldn’t be prevented. Again, this often leaves the victims and their families with a devastating loss due to someone else’s negligence. I hope that the injured worker is able to recover and the family of the deceased worker will be able to get the closure they need from their loss.