By KATE LUDLOW
Officials say 296 passengers were aboard the Burnet Flyer steam train Saturday morning when the train was struck by a tractor trailer truck as it crossed State Highway 29 in Liberty Hill.
There were no fatalities and no injuries reported in the wreck that shut down the highway and County Road 200 for 45 minutes while the train was stopped. The train was also carrying four crew members.
The driver of the truck, who would only identify himself as Herbert, was travelling with his wife and four children. He told The Independent that he failed to stop in time, though he knew the train was approaching.
“I heard the train, but I couldn’t see it. I saw everyone else stopping, so I thought I oughta stop, too. I tried to stop, but I just couldn’t. Then I saw it coming, and it just, bloop, it was there,” he said.
Herbert said the family was from Dallas.
The truck was still drivable after the wreck, though Herbert and his family had to install a new headlight on the truck for it to be street legal. Herbert declined to say what he was transporting.
Liberty Hill Police Chief Randy Williams said the vehicle was heading eastbound on Highway 29. There is a 66-foot skid mark on the road to indicate that the driver did in fact try to stop in time, he said.
“He was only going about 10 or 15 miles an hour when it hit. He tried to stop,” Williams said.
According to Chief Williams, the train was also traveling at a low rate of speed at the time of the impact.
“He struck the side of the engine. There was minor damage to the next two passenger cars. The train was stopped by the time he was at the fourth or fifth car. The middle of the train was still on the highway, so it was going pretty slow,” he said.
Officers from the Liberty Hill Police Department and the Williamson County Sherriff’s Office responded, along with fire and EMS personnel from Williamson County Emergency Services District #4. The driver was ticketed for Failure to Control Speed.