(Kelsey Township, Minnesota – February 13, 2013)
When a train stops, for any reason, and blocks a dangerous, unguarded crossing, it makes sense for a member of the train crew or law enforcement to post a flagger or a flare at the crossing, especially when it is dark outside, and even more so when heavy fog is blanketing the area making the train difficult, at best, to see. Yet, a Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight train experienced mechanical problems early Wednesday morning, and was blocking the Arkola Road grade crossing, near its intersection with Parssinen Road close to the Kelsey Township, MN community of Cotton.
Unable to see the train without flashing lights or crossing gates, neither of which were present at the crossing, in the early morning darkness and foggy conditions, 28-year-old Adam John Sharp, on his way to work in his SUV, struck the side of the stopped train about 6:00 A.M., resulting in his death even though citizens at the scene and EMS personnel made futile efforts to save the victim’s life.
Sgt. Wade Rasch of the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Dept. said the crossing was marked with standard, passive railroad crossing crossbuck signs and highway stop signs, but had no active protection such as flashing lights or gates.
According to the Federal Railroad Administration, Wednesday’s tragedy was the sixth accident at the crossing, which also goes by the designation as County Highway 52, but was the first fatality.