(Freeborn County, Minnesota – December 29, 2012)
An Ellendale, MN resident spent the New Year’s holiday in an Albert Lea, MN hospital after the 1991 GMC Sonoma he was driving eastbound on a snow-packed, gravel 775th Avenue a few miles north of Clarks Grove, MN was struck and heavily damaged by a Union Pacific freight train at the dangerous, unguarded crossing of 775th Avenue and UPRR tracks early Saturday afternoon at about 12:15 P.M.
David Martin Christensen, 43, doubtfully saw the southbound train before it was too late to stop at the crossing, which is “protected” only by a pair of standard, passive railroad crossbuck signs rather than the flashing lights, bells and crossing gates railroad sources claim could eliminate over 90% of such accidents.
There has been one previous accident at the intersection which Federal Railroad Administration records say is traversed by nearly a dozen trains daily at top speeds of 50 mph. The victim was taken to the Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea, MN, where he was still listed in good condition New Year’s Day.
Responding to the accident were the Minnesota State Patrol, the Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office, the Geneva and Clarks Grove Fire Departments and ambulance services from both Ellendale and Albert Lea.