(Solway, Minnesota – July 16, 2017)
A Minnesota couple suffered critical injuries Sunday afternoon at about 2:10 P.M., CDT after being struck by a BNSF freight train. The couple was driving a 2014 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck northbound Centerline Road NW (Beltrami County Road 501) in Solway, MN, when their truck was struck by an eastbound BNSF train at a dangerous and unguarded crossing. The crossing closely parallels U.S. Highway 2.
Janice R. Callaway of Chatfield, MN, the driver, received “potentially life-threatening injuries” and was airlifted to North Memorial Hospital in Robbinsdale, MN. Her passenger, Thomas Burke, was taken by ambulance to Sanford Hospital in the local area.
The crossing is used on an average day by up to eight BNSF trains which can travel at maximum speeds of 49 mph. Sunday’s tragedy was the first accident recorded at that intersection. It is virtually certain that if this crossing was protected by active warning devices, this collision would not have occurred. Both BNSF and Operation Lifesaver all 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%.
Sheriff’s officers investigating the accident noted the absence of automated signals at the site.