Stephen Benham, 56, of Henrietta was trying to help his son and a friend when a Burlington Northern-Santa Fe train struck his pickup shortly after 9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18.
Andrew Klem, 22, of Wichita Falls, and Benham’s son, Stephen Ellis Benham, 24, had left the family’s residence on Anderson Road south of Henrietta. DPS Trooper Harley Rosenberger said that as Klem approached Hwy. 287, his car, a 2000 Honda coupe, slid in loose gravel and became stuck between the tracks to the side of the railroad crossing.
The elder Benham drove to the crossing to find the car on an auxiliary track. Stephen Benham parked his 2005 Chevrolet half-tom pickup on the crossing at the main line track and had just finished attaching a tow strap to the car when the locomotive topped a hill north of the crossing.
The southbound locomotive struck Benham’s passenger-side door and pushed the truck from the tracks. The train missed Klem’s car by less than one foot.
Benham was transported first to Clay County Memorial Hospital, then to United Regional hospital in Wichita Falls. Benham suffered a broken ankle, broken femur, broken ribs and other possible injuries.
Rosenberger said that according to BNSF officials, the train had four engines and 66 cars. It was 6,500 feet long.
Visibility was approximately 500 feet, said Rosenberger. The trooper said that according to its engineer, the train was traveling at 60 miles-per-hour when the vehicles were spotted. By the time it reached Benham’s pickup, it had slowed to 50 mph. It took one-half mile for the train to come to a complete stop.