(Des Lacs, North Dakota – September 9, 2017)
A 74-year-old resident of Hollandale, MN, was killed Saturday afternoon at about 1:45 P.M. The incident occurred when his southbound pickup truck was struck by an eastbound Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight train at the dangerous and unguarded crossing of 198th Street NW about a mile and a half west of Des Lacs, ND.
Robert Bowman of Hollandale, MN was working with a contract farm combining operation, and had just left his job site when the collision took place. Even though there are a daily average of 40 BNSF freight and Amtrak passenger trains that cross 198th St NW at maximum allowable speeds as high as 79 mph. there are no active warning devices, such as lights and gates, to give motorists warning of an oncoming train. It is virtually certain that if this crossing was protected by active warning devices, this collision and the eight before it would not have occurred. Both BNSF 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%.
North Dakota State Road 10 closely parallels the double track BNSF railroad at that location, and the driver may have been looking for traffic on the highway when he was struck and dragged, killing him instantly.
Federal Railroad Administration grade crossing inventory records indicated a previous injury accident at the crossing, but no fatal collisions.