(Granite Falls, MN – March 14, 2014)
The 46-year-old driver of a Federal Express delivery truck received serious injuries Friday afternoon about 2:00 P.M. when he was hit by an approaching BNSF freight train at the intersection of BNSF railroad tracks and Yellow Medicine County Road 39 (540th Street) south of Granite Falls, MN.
The victim, Chad Borka of Atwatwer, MN was first rushed to Granite Falls Hospital, and due to the serious nature of his injuries, was then airlifted to Hennepin County Medicine Center in Minneapolis, MN. As of Monday morning, he was still hospitalized at HCMC, where he was listed in critical condition.
Even though, according to Federal Railroad Administration records, the CR 39/540th Street/BNSF Railway intersection accommodates the daily crossing of 14 trains at a top allowable speed of 49 mph, the Minnesota crossing does not have any active protection, such as lights and gates. It is virtually certain that lights and gates would have prevented this incident. Both CSX and Operation Lifesaver know lights and gates are the most effective type of protection at railroad crossings. Studies that have been conducted over fifty years ago confirm that lights and gates offer the ability to drastically reduce the number of vehicle/train accidents by as much as 96%.
FRA documents also point out that a daily average of six school buses cross BNSF tracks while picking up or dropping off students along CR 39 and 540th Street.