(Le Mars, Iowa – May 31, 2013)
A 43-year-old Akron, IA woman escaped with her life but not serious injury Friday morning at about 8:19 A.M. when her eastbound pickup truck was totaled by a southbound Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight train at the dangerous, unguarded crossing of BNSF railroad tracks and 200 Street near Le Mars, IA.
Carrie Pfeil was first taken by Le Mars Ambulance to Floyd Valley Hospital in Le Mars, but was then flown by Mercy Air Care to Mercy Medical Center in Sioux City, IA, where her condition was undetermined.
This incident happened at a dangerous, unguarded crossing. It is virtually certain that lights and gates would have prevented this incident. Both BNSF 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 can gates offer the ability to drastically reduce the number of vehicle/train accidents by as much as 96%.
An average of 11 BNSF trains operate across the intersection daily at a top allowable speed of 49 mph. The crossing is surrounded on all four quadrants with vegetation and BNSF tracks cross at an odd angle, factors which may have contributed to the driver’s inability to see the train.
The accident was the third at the BNSF/200th Street crossing, but only the first injury incident there. It was investigated by the Iowa State Patrol, Le Mars Police and Plymouth County officials.