(Perham, Minnesota – December 22, 2018)
A mother and her 2 daughters were airlifted to undisclosed area trauma centers after the car they were in was broadsided by a BNSF freight train. The collision occurred at the dangerous and unguarded double track crossing of 460th Street and BNSF rails about 3:25 PM, CST Saturday afternoon just outside of Perham, MN.
A fourth occupant of the car, who was not identified by name or age, was treated and released at the scene. The victims were first rushed to the Perham Hospital, but their injuries required more critical treatment than the medical center could offer. So they were life-lighted to specialized medical facilities.
The crossing, which is not equipped with any active warning devices, handles a daily average of 52 BNSF freight and Amtrak passenger trains which can run at speeds as high as 75 mph. US Highway 10 parallels BNSF tracks at the 460th Street crossing, and its proximity may have been a factor in the wreck. Snow-packed secondary roads were another possible negative factor in the collision, but it was not known if the driver was even aware of the presence of the train without electronic warnings in place.
It is virtually certain that if this crossing was equipped with active warning devices, such as lights and gates, 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%.
The Perham Police Dept., Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office and Minnesota State Patrol all responded to the accident scene.