(New Hampton, Iowa — January 12, 2018)
The 64-year-old operator of a 1999 Caterpillar road grader was hit and killed by a westbound Canadian Pacific freight train that he doubtfully ever heard or saw approaching as he plowed snow northbound on Jasper Avenue near New Hampton, IA last Friday morning at about 7:45 AM, CST.
David Zwanziger, a Chickasaw County employee, was plowing snow from the dangerous and unguarded single track CP/Jasper Avenue crossing when he was hit. The train struck and destroyed the heavy piece of road maintenance equipment, throwing the victim from its cab. The crossing carries a daily average of four CP trains that can travel at a maximum speed of 40 mph.
The unprotected crossing is not equipped with any active warning devices, such as lights and gates. It is virtually certain that this collision would not have occurred if the crossing was equipped with active warning devices. Both the Canadian Pacific 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%.
Although the Chickasaw County Sheriff’s Office responded to the tragedy. The Iowa State Highway Patrol became the lead investigative agency due to the restriction against one county agency investigating an accident involving one of another county agency’s employees.