Railroad News

Iowa High School Football Star Dies Eighty-Four Days After Collision with a CN Freight Train at an Unguarded and Poorly Designed Crossing

(Dunlap, Iowa – January 4, 2013)

An All-Conference sophomore defensive football player for Boyer Valley Senior High School in Dunlap, IA, succumbed December 30 to injuries received in a collision with a Canadian National subsidiary Chicago, Central & Pacific Railroad freight train at the dangerous, unguarded, questionably-designed crossing of Remsen Street and CN/CCP railroad tracks at about 8:00 A.M. October 4 as he drove his 2008 Ford F-150 pickup truck to school.

Jason Hoffman, 16, died Sunday after 84 days of hospitalization, mostly at the Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in Lincoln, NE, and school was dismissed for today, Friday, January 4, for the young man’s funeral. Jason was also a standout athlete in basketball and track for the Boyer Valley Bulldogs, and was described by BVSHS Principal Chad Straight as “a very energetic young man. He was always friendly to everyone, and I think that is going to be missed”.

The railroad tracks of both the Union Pacific and CN parallel one another as they transverse Dunlap, and Jason had first driven across the UPRR crossing, which accommodates 56 trains daily via a triple-tracked (two main line and a siding) route with full crossing protection – flashing lights, bells and crossing gates – at an intersection where Federal Railroad Administration records indicate there has never been an accident. The young man then proceeded to attempt to cross the dangerous, unguarded crossing of SN/CCP rails on its Remsen Street crossing, directly parallel to the UPRR crossing. It was there that his vehicle was struck by a 22-car southbound CN train pulled by three locomotives at 35 mph. The CN/CCP crossing has only standard, passive railroad crossbuck signs for “protection” of the driving public from the single-tracked, four-train-daily, 40 mph maximum speed crossing. During the time the FRA has kept crossing accident records, the CN crossing has experienced three accidents resulting in three injuries, one of which is now a fatality.

Jay Peterson, Jason’s football and track coach at BVSHS, recalled the kindness of Hoffman when his family had experienced the personal tragedy of losing their two-year-old son to a heart condition last spring. Hoffman had slipped a home-made sympathy card and $12 cash into his coach’s mailbox, saying that he was “very sorry for the family’s loss”.

“He was quite a kid. I hope I was able to touch his life a fraction of the positive way he touched mine,” lamented Coach Peterson.