BURNET COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — A family’s near-death experience may lead to safety improvements at a train crossing in Burnet County.
Dale Daniels, his pregnant wife and their four-year-old son received only minor injuries after a train struck their Jeep Saturday afternoon on County Road 258, west of Bertram.
“It was the scariest moment of my life,” Daniels said. “I never want to see anybody go through what I had to witness. The screams of my wife and my kid will haunt me for the rest of my life.”
He said he approached the train crossing to get onto S.H. 29 and looked both directions for trains. However, he claims the bend west of the track made him missing seeing one approach.
“Something told me look to the side. I looked to the side,” Daniels said. “The second I looked to the side, I saw it. Just enough for me to yell brace and for me to punch it just enough for it to barely clip us.”
Daniels said the passenger train operated by the Austin Steam Train Association did not sound its horn when approaching the crossing. That organization declined Monday to comment on what happened.
Right now the crossing only features white, x-shaped railroad crossing signs, which Daniels said is not enough anymore to alert people and keep them safe.
“[The train] clipped the back of the car, and it was the scariest thing,” he said. “I thought I lost my family in that.”
Damon Beierle, the Burnet County commissioner for Precinct 2, said he heard about the crash and began working Monday to find out how to petition to add flashing safety lights at this crossing. He said other neighbors have complained about close calls there in the past and expressed the need for more than just those standard crossing signs.
“I don’t know the costs involved. I don’t know the funding. I don’t know that stuff yet,” Beierle said. “So a little bit of patience and a little bit of awareness while you’re on the road between now and when we can get to the solution would be appreciated. But we will be working diligently and daily to see what the answers are to get safety lighting at these crossings.”
Until safety improvements are made, Daniels and his family plan to take alternate routes to avoid the train crossing closest to their house.
“More and more are taking the back roads to avoid that,” Daniels said. “And that shouldn’t be how it should be.”
The rail line that runs through this part of Burnet County is owned and maintained by the Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
Capital Metro and the Texas Department of Transportation did not immediately respond to requests about discussions for improvements at this particular crossing.