The Highway Patrol reports a Hale man sustained serious injuries when a ballast regulator struck a sport utility vehicle at a railroad crossing three miles northeast of Hale on Friday afternoon, December 3rd.
A ballast regulator (also known as a ballast spreader or ballast sweeper) is a piece of rail transport maintenance of way equipment used to shape and distribute the gravel track ballast that supports the ties in rail tracks.
A private vehicle transported the SUV driver, 65-year-old Robert Sykes, to Hedrick Medical Center. No injuries were reported for ballast regulator operator 51-year-old Shane Edgar of Marceline.
The SUV traveled south on County Road 387, the regulator traveling west on the railroad tracks. Both vehicles entered the railroad crossing at the same time, which caused the regulator to hit the driver’s side of the SUV. The ballast regulator was signaling using a horn, but the signals at the railroad crossing were not activated.
The SUV came to rest on its wheels northwest of the crossing and was totaled. The regulator stopped on the tracks west of the crossing with minor damage.
The Patrol reports Sykes wore a seat belt while it was unknown if Edgar was utilizing safety devices.