(Bonner County, Idaho — December 31, 2013)
A dangerous and unguarded BNSF railroad crossing between the communities of Sagle and Sand Point in Bonner County, ID was the site of its third accident at about 4:22 P.M. Tuesday afternoon when a collision between a BNSF freight train travelling at a speed of 59 mph from Portland, OR to Chicago, IL and a vehicle driven by 25-year-old Kaitlin Brosh claimed the life of the female motorist.
Even though the Heath Lake Road crossing of BNSF tracks sees a daily average of 55 trains, including Amtrak passenger, BNSF and Montana Rail Link trains which operate at a maximum allowable speed of 70 mph, the crossing has no active protective devices such as flashing lights, bells and crossing gates, but rather is equipped only with passive railroad cross-buck and highway stop signage, therefore making the warning to drivers of approaching trains on the double-tracked rail corridor nearly impossible at best.
The victim was pronounced dead at the scene, making her the first fatality at the BNSF/Heath Lake Road intersection after two earlier accidents had resulted in a total of three non-fatal injuries suffered by motorists and their passengers.
As previously mentioned, this collision happened at a dangerous, unguarded crossing that does not have flashing lights or automatic gates. It is virtually certain that lights and gates would have prevented this incident. Both BNSF and Operation Lifesaver know 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 can gates offer the ability to drastically reduce the number of vehicle/train accidents by as much as 96%.