(Cleveland, North Dakota – November 8, 2018)
A 44-year-old Montpelier, ND trucker driving a semi-tractor and hauling a trailer fully loaded with grain received serious but non-life-threatening injuries Thursday about 1:38 PM, CST. His truck was struck by a BNSF coal train at the dangerous and unguarded rail crossing of BNSF tracks and 64th Avenue Southeast at the edge of Cleveland, ND.
Shane Steele, the driver of the 18-wheeler didn’t see the train coming according to what Stutsman County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Casey Yunck. Shane was transported by ground ambulance to Jamestown Regional Medical Center for treatment of his crash-caused, but otherwise undisclosed, injuries.
The force of the collision caused the locomotive to uncouple from the string of empty coal hoppers, lose its air brakes, and travel four miles down the rails until its engineer could bring it to a halt. The locomotive separated the semi’s tractor from its trailer, resulting in a totally damaged rig.
According to the Federal Railroad Administration, an average of 20 BNSF freight trains cross 64th Avenue SE daily at a maximum allowable speed of 50 mph. This collision was the third to occur at that road/rail crossing. The two previous collisions caused injury to one motorist and one railroad employee.
Despite the risk exposure, there are no active warning devices, such as lights and gates at this crossing. The addition of lights and gates would almost surely have prevented this collision. 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 North Dakota Highway Patrol assisted the sheriff’s department in investigating the wreck.