(Lidgerwood, North Dakota – December 18, 2019)
A school bus driven by a 69-year-old local man and carrying 18 kindergarten through 12th-grade students was struck by a freight train about 3:40 PM last Thursday afternoon. The collision involved a Dakota, Missouri Valley & Western railroad train at the unguarded crossing of 4th Avenue and double railroad tracks in the community of Lidgerwood, ND. Five students were seriously injured at sent to local hospitals.
Bus driver Michael Skroch was not injured, but five of the student passengers were. Although not identified by name, a 15-year-old girl was airlifted to Sandford Hospital in Fargo, while either ground ambulances or parents transported the other four injured students to area medical care centers. They included an 8-year-old girl, an 11-year-old boy, a 14-year-old girl, and a 10-year-old boy who was taken by his parents to a trauma facility.
The crossing was dangerous, unguarded and not equipped with any active warning devices at the time of the collision. According to Federal Railroad Administration records that are submitted by the railroad company, trains traverse the crossing daily at speeds up to 40 miles per hour. It is virtually certain that if this crossing was equipped with lights and gates, this collision would not have happened. Dakota, Missouri Valley & Western and Operation Lifesaver know that 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 collisions by as much as 96%.
The Dakota, Missouri Valley & Western railroad operates over 500 owned and leased miles of track in three upper Midwestern states, and headquarters in Bismarck, ND.