An Oklahoma family is awarded $9 million, following a train crash in 2013 that killed an Edmond man. 

It happened in Pawnee County.

On Thursday, May 9, 2019, a jury found BSNF Railway guilty of reckless disregard for safety.

According to court documents, prior to Richard Knight's death in 2013, there had been at least eight prior train wrecks at the same crossing. Knight was killed while working to remove the obstruction responsible for those previous crashes.

“The train was going so fast it created an explosion right then, and there was a fireball--it was pushed a quarter mile down the track. Mr. Knight’s body was burned up while he was trapped in the cab of the truck,” said family attorney Grant Davis.

In 2011, a building was ordered to come down. For years, the building owned by BNSF was responsible for blocking drivers’ line of sight as they attempted to cross those same tracks. But because the property was being leased, BNSF passed the responsibility on to their leaser.

“Instead of tearing it down themselves, which would have been fast, they invoked this clause in the lease and made this little family owned grain company tear it down,” said Davis.

Work was delayed as the family-owned company scraped the $50,000 together to demolish the building. Then in 2012, there was a crash.

“Instead of immediately saying, ‘oh my gosh, we can’t wait any longer, we got to get this down,’ they didn’t. They prolonged it for another year,” said Davis.

Knight’s family attorney said instead of stepping in, BNSF stood idly by - putting profits over safety.

“BNSF's net worth is $63 billion, so $50,000 to them is so little,” said Davis.  

Eleven months later in 2013, war veteran Knight was killed. Then, less than three years later, Knight’s three children lost their mother.

“She basically died of a broken heart. She gave up on life after Mr. Knight was killed,” said Davis.