Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

Scene of the Crash

Today, Lisa and I drove over to Fallon to see if we could find some things that we couldn't get at Lowe's, and indeed we did get a number of miscellaneous parts at Big R before looking around Fallon (which is about as far east of Fernley as Reno/Sparks is west) to get an idea of what's available there. After having dinner, we impulsively decided to drive north on US-95 rather than back to the west on Alt-US-50, and that took us to the scene of the Amtrak vs Big Rig crash last June. The light was fading as we approached the grade crossing just south of I-80, but we had time to stop and look around the area. There's a small monument to the people who died in the accident, and a lot of smoothly-graded area around the crossing that looks like where they pushed a lot of dirt as part of the clean-up. Lisa said it gave her a much better appreciation for the accident to see the site.

Even at 70 MPH (legal on this stretch), there is plenty of time to see this crossing from US-95. The NTSB preliminary report says that the on-board recorder on the train shows that the crossing gates and lights were working and that the train had properly sounded its horn for the crossing. Although we'll probably never know for sure, it seems quite plausible that the gravel truck driver had a case of "highway hypnosis" from the long, straight stretch of road (It's pretty monotonous, in fact) and didn't come to until it was too late to actually stop, although he appears to have tried to do so based on the tire tracks found by the NTSB investigators. The driver paid with his life for the mistake. Unfortunately, so did five other people.

After examining the scene, we got back on I-80 and rocketed across the desert at 75 MPH back to Fernley. We've finished setting up my temporary office in the living room, with space for both my personal and work computers from which I should be able to work comfortably this coming week.
Tags: amtrak, fernley, trains

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