Truck, Train Crash Kills Heartland Man

Truck, Train Crash Kills Heartland Man
By: CJ  Cassidy

STODDARD COUNTY, Mo. - A fiery crash between a truck and a train claims the life of a Bloomfield man.
It happened in Stoddard County at the tracks on Highway 25 at Highway D Sunday morning about 9:20.
Investigators say the driver, 39-year-old Gary Ross, did not yield to the train.
Ross died when the train engine slammed into his truck.
James Barnes, speaking for the Union Pacific Railroad, says Gary Ross' truck stalled on the railroad tracks and the train couldn't stop in time.
Barnes says they warn people to get out of their vehicles and go to safety if this ever happens to them.
Meanwhile residents in the area call this one of the worst crashes they've ever seen.
There's not a lot left of the truck Ross was driving after a Union Pacific train slammed into it Sunday morning.
The truck was pulling a trailer load of cotton.
Police and firefighters arrived to find the truck cab twisted around the train's lead engine and the rest of the truck blazing, about half a mile away.
"I was in the den watching TV when I heard this noise," Roy Harris said.  He lives on a Stoddard County road near the scene of the deadly crash.
He's so used to hearing trains thunder past, he sleeps through them. Not this time.
"It's kind of like if you've heard a train back up when it hits the train cars.  Metal against metal," he said.
The scene Harris saw out of his window was horrific.  It even left Dexter Fire Chief Al Banken at a loss for words.
"In all my years on fire department I never saw anything like this.  I've been here almost 45 years, I didn't know what we had.  I didn't know what to do initially," Banken said.
Fire crews eventually put out the flames burning around the train's engines.
Cotton and spilled diesel sparked grass fires for a mile or so along the tracks.
Now, as Union Pacific crews work on putting up poles burned in the fire, Ross' family members say they're in shock. 
They say their loved one started working as a driver just weeks ago. He used to be a construction worker who simply wanted to be close to his family in Bloomfield.
Roy Harris says his heart goes out to Ross' family.  Now he just wants to know how the crash happened.
"My question is - you can see almost all the way to Bernie when you come out, there's nothing to block your vision why he would not see train unless he was preoccupied at the time," Harris said.
Missouri Highway Patrol investigators say they're waiting on a data recorder from the train to learn how fast it was going.
The two crew members on board the train were not injured and are said to be recovering.
Meanwhile, Ross' family members have visitation planned for Tuesday and the funeral Wednesday at Watkins Funeral Home in Dexter.