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Train-truck collision leaves one dead

April 12, 2012

The railroad outside the Alon USA Big Spring Refinery was shut down Wednesday afternoon following an accident that claimed the life of a female contractor working at the facility. According to officials, a westbound train struck a vacuum truck at one of the facility’s railroad crossings. (HERALD photo/Thomas Jenkins)

A woman was killed Wednesday afternoon when the truck she was driving was hit by a Union Pacific train at the Alon USA owned Big Spring Refinery.

According to Alon USA public relations spokeman Blake Lewis, the woman was a contractor working at the local facility and not a refinery employee.

Emergency personnel with the refinery's emergency response team, the Howard County Sheriff's Office and Big Spring Fire Department all responded to the accident, which happened on refinery property at approximately 11:30 a.m.

The identity of the woman killed in the accident has not yet been released by law enforcement officials.

According to Raquel Espinoza, director of corporate relations and media for Union Pacific Railroads, the train struck the contractor's truck in the crossing area.

“The train was westbound when it hit the vacuum truck,” Espinoza said. “The crossing is equipped with lights and crossing gates, all of which were working properly at the time of the accident. The train was manned by a crew and they did everything they could to prevent the accident, but there was simply nothing they could do at that point.”

Espinoza said all warning and safety equipment on the train appears to have been working properly at the time of the crash, however, Union Pacific Railroads is currently conducting an investigation.

“It's a very unfortunate turn of events,” Espinoza said. “Our hearts go out to the family and friends of the driver of the truck. We'll be offering counseling for the crew of the train to help them deal with the traumatic effects of this event, as well.”

According to unconfirmed reports from witnesses, the train struck the vacuum truck on the driver's side. The woman was transported to the emergency room at Scenic Mountain Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead.

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