(Meriden, Minnesota – February 24, 2012)
An 86-year-old woman, a passenger in a silver Ford Focus driven by a friend, was killed early Friday afternoon about 12:30 P.M. when they were struck by a Canadian Pacific local freight train consisting of a single locomotive and 13 empty freight cars, traveling between 20 and 30 mph, at the dangerous, unguarded crossing of CP railroad tracks and Steele County Road 18 in the south part of Meriden, MN.
Betty Patricia Bang, of Owatonna, MN, a mother of seven, grandmother of 19, and great-grandmother of 31, was killed instantly as the train struck the car on the passenger side and carried it 200 feet down the track before coming to a stop.
The driver, an unidentified female from Waseca, MN, was airlifted to a hospital in Rochester, MN for treatment of her undetermined injuries.
The crossing of County Road 13 and CPR tracks is equipped only with standard highway stop signs and railroad crossbuck signs painted on the roadway, completely lacking any automatic protective devices such as lights, gates or bells.
Canadian Pacific spokesman Ed Greenberg expressed sympathy for the family and friends of the victim, concern for the locomotive engineer and conductor of the train, and after pleading the normal railroad scenario of inability to stop a train, regardless of its short consist, said “That’s something we’re going to be working with the local sheriff’s office to see what took place here in terms of how the car ended up in the crossing.”
Greenberg did not mention the existence of the locomotive’s video recorder, or whether Steele County Sheriff Lon Thiele would be provided access to the tape in further investigating the tragic death.