(Alburnett, Iowa – October 2, 2016)
A 44-year-old resident of Marion, IA who was driving a 2005 Ford pickup truck westbound on a county road was killed Sunday afternoon at about 1:53 P.M., CDT, when he collided with northbound Canadian National freight train. The collision to place at the dangerous and unguarded crossing of Arabian Road and CN railroad tracks just south of the Linn County, Iowa community of Alburnett.
The pickup exploded in a ball of fire after the unsuspecting victim attempted to cross the skewed angle crossing where three previous collisions, injuring two people, had occurred. Trains traverse the crossing at speeds up to 40 mph. Despite the train speeds and previous accidents, the crossing lacks any form of active warning devices, such as lights and gates. It is virtually certain that if this crossing was equipped with lights and gates, this collision would not have happened. Both CN 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 accidents by as much as 96%.
Regardless of the amount of rail or road traffic, it is physically impossible for a motorist to be alerted to the presence of an oncoming train when neither flashing lights, bells nor crossing gates are present and properly operating at a road/rail intersection.
The victim, whose name was not released by the Linn County Sheriff’s Office pending notification of next-of-kin, was pronounced dead at the scene after Alburnett and Monroe Township firefighters extinguished the blazing inferno and extricated him from the smoldering pickup’s cab.
The Iowa State Patrol joined Linn County Sheriff’s officers in investigation the tragedy.