A man identified Friday as Michael Esquibel, 35, of Las Vegas was killed Thursday afternoon when his pickup truck collided with an Amtrak train on Rio Arriba Road north of town.
State Police Captain Toby Dolan said that despite efforts, EMS was unable to save the victim, assumed dead at the scene. The pickup, a black Ford F150, was hauling a flatbed trailer loaded with rubbish and is believed to have been headed to the city’s Solid Waste Transfer Station when the accident occurred.
The remains of the trailer, and its contents, were strewn along the east side of the railroad tracks.
It was the second such fatal collision at the site in four months. On Sept. 11, Fred Stark, of Denver, was also killed when his vehicle collided with an Amtrak train at the crossing to the Transfer Station.
“I don’t know who has the authority for getting mechanical crossing guards,” Dolan said, “but we’re setting ourselves up for failure if we don’t get them here.”
Lt. Craig Martin of the New Mexico State police said that the train was reportedly traveling northbound at 79 mph, and that there is only about 100 yards of visibility south of the tracks.
“It’s a situation where the people at that crossing need to take the time and look very carefully for their own safety,” Martin said.
Paul Gray, district engineer for the New Mexico Department of Transportation, said he did not believe the DOT was “a party to the issue” of safety devices at the site.
“It’s really not the property of the DOT, it’s the property of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad,” Gray said. “The road belongs to whoever owns the Transfer Station, I’m assuming.”
Gray said that, as district engineer, his No. 1 recommendation would be that the city consider identifying funding to get improvements made at the crossing. He also said the DOT is in negotiation with the railroad and that at some point the railroad will become the property of the DOT.