Two construction workers in West Des Moines were injured earlier this week when they were knocked off their boom truck after it was hit by an oncoming freight train. The two men were working on the I-35 widening project near Grand Avenue at the time of the accident.
Authorities say that one man was wedged under a bridge and managed to hang on after the accident, only suffering minor injuries. Though he was safe, emergency responders say it took more than an hour to rescue the man given how delicate a process it can be to extract someone from such a dangerous situation. The other man was not as fortunate and was thrown nearly 200 feet from the boom and had to be hospitalized for his serious injuries.
Police officers say the accident happened on train tracks near I-35 around 1:20 p.m. The two men were employees of United Contractors, Inc. and were in the passenger bucket of the boom lift's arm when an oncoming train hit it. Witnesses say that the boom lift was raised at the time so the workers could work on the new bridge at I-35. An Iowa Interstate Railroad train, which was coming from the west, struck the truck that was holding the boom lift, sending both men falling.
Officials with Iowa Interstate Railroad say they are investigating the accident and are trying to determine how the train could have struck the truck in the first place. Emergency responders are waiting to see whether the National Transportation Safety Board will become involved, something that happens if damages exceed a certain limit.
The accident is yet another clear indication of the dangers that exist when humans find themselves near railroad tracks. Though officials have not yet revealed whether the boom truck was properly placed prior to the crash, the case serves as an example of why it is crucial for workers to be especially cautious when near train tracks.
Even if the boom truck was not parked on the track itself, it's quite possible that it could still have been clipped by the train. How's that? According to rail industry experts, trains can extend as much as three feet outside the steel rail of the track with some tankers taking up even more space. That's why when a person is around a railroad track it is important to leave a wide gap between yourself and the rail, realizing that the train is actually wider than the track it sits on.
Source: "Iowa workers get thrown from boom lift in accident," by The Associated Press, published at TimesRepublican.com.