(Le Mars, Iowa – May 31, 2013)
A 43-year-old Akron, IA woman escaped with her life, but not without 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.
Totally ignoring a now five-year-old report published by the Association of American Railroads that the installation of active crossing protection such as flashing lights, bells and crossing gates could eliminate 94% of all crossing accidents, railroad, state and county authorities still have the 200th Street/BNSF crossing “protected” only by standard, passive railroad crossbuck signs which give no electronic warning of oncoming trains. 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.