The Oklahoma State Department of Public Safety (DPS) reports that James Lee Betts, 41, of Welch, was struck and killed by a Union Pacific train at approximately 12:33 a.m. today.
The DPS report indicates Betts was “[p]ronounced dead on scene due to injuries sustained in the collision” after he was struck by a southbound train as he was walking on the railraod tracks. Betts’ condition is under investigation.
The Union Pacific train was operated by Nathan Branchcomb, 41, of Parsons, Kan. He was not injured. His condition was “apparently normal”.
Train passenger, William Algaier, 27, of Parsons was not injured.
The cause of the collision is under investigation.
[Update 5:12 a.m.]
Jeff Degraff with Union Pacific Railroad media relations spoke with us this morning and explained that Agent Bybee was on the scene to collect evidence that UPRR can use to evaluate the incident. He also shared that the tragic event will affect both the family and loved ones of the victim, as well as the train crew.
He indicated that the scene had been processed and that the train would soon resume its route, which it did at approximate;y 4:48 a.m.
[Update 3:50 a.m.]
OHP Trooper Jeff Laue of Troop L is managing the scene. Personnel from the Oklahoma Medical Examiner’s Office is on scene, as is Scott D. Bybee, Senior Special Agent, Accident Analysis, for the Union Pacific Railroad Police Department.
Trooper Laue stated that indications are that the deceased was standing on the railroad tracks and was struck by the train, resulting in the fatality.
Additionally, Laue stated that the unoccupied Kansas-tagged vehicle east of the HWY 10 railroad crossing traces back to an individual other than the deceased, so is not connected at this time.
Laue also stated that the train could remain stopped on the tracks, blocking all in-town crossings, among others, for hours as the scene is processed.
Bybee offered no statement, referring questions to UPRR Media Relations personnel.
Oklahoma Medical Examiner personnel had no comment on the matter.
KVWO will continue to investigate.
[Original Post, 3: 01 a.m.]
WELCH—In the early morning hours today (approximately 1 a.m.), a pedestrian-train collision occurred in the vicinity of the HWY 10 (4th Ave.) crossing of the Union Pacific Railroad (UPRR) and south toward 6th Ave. in Welch, adjacent to Beachner Grain elevator facilities (Click here to see the location on Google maps). Craig County Sheriff’s Office and Oklahoma Highway Patrol personnel are on the scene.
Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Brown reported to KVWO’s Tyson Wynn at the scene, “We got a call from somebody saying that there was a pedestrian on the train tracks and was struck by the train. That’s all we know.”
When Wynn asked the status of the pedestrian, Brown stated, “It’s a fatality.”
An unoccupied vehicle bearing Kansas tags sat to the east side of the HWY 10 UPRR crossing.
All in-town railroad crossings and the E 90 Rd. crossing are blocked and will remain so for some time as emergency personnel work the scene.
KVWO will update this story as information becomes available.