Krista Rosencrans, who was paralyzed in a 2005 train collision near Belvidere, will get another chance for a trial, ruled the Nebraska Supreme Court last Friday. In 2009, four years after the accident, a Lancaster County district court judge dismissed Rosencrans’ lawsuit against the Union Pacific.
Rosencrans said the Omaha-based railroad company was negligent because the train’s horn did not sound at an intersection that did not have warning lights or cross arms. She also said that train operators failed “to take timely action to slow or stop the train” after realizing there was going to be an accident.
The Nebraska Supreme Court rejected the horn argument, but ruled that the district judge erred when he declined to consider whether the train was stopped soon enough.
Rosencrans, who was 18 at the time of the accident that occurred on Road 26 one mile west of Belvidere, was the passenger in a 1990 Chevrolet Suburban driven by classmate Chanda McDonald. Both teens were ejected when the UP train hit the suburban as it was backing from the tracks. McDonald was treated and released from the hospital, but Rosencrans was life-flighted to BryanLGH Medical Center with nine broken ribs, three crushed vertebrae, a torn lung and a ruptured spleen. The accident left her paralyzed from the chest down.
The Nebraska Supreme Court returned the case to Lancaster County district court to consider whether the Union Pacific train crew applied the brakes early enough once they realized an accident was imminent.