Railroad News

Retired Local Teacher Killed at Dangerous, Unguarded BNSF Crossing

(Carlton County, Minnesota – August 22, 2012)

A 67-year-old mother, grandmother and retired teacher was killed early Wednesday morning at about 7:58 A.M. when the vehicle she was driving was struck and dragged at least a mile by a Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight train at the dangerous, unguarded crossing of East Mud Lake Road (Carlton County Road 127) and BNSF Railroad tracks near Wright, MN.

Susan McPhail, originally from Cloquet, MN and a former teacher who taught in the Carlton School District for many years before retiring and moving to New Mexico probably never saw or heard the train due to the early morning sunlight.

The victim, the mother of three adult children and grandmother of six, was in the area visiting family and friends at the time of the tragic accident.

The crossing of CR 127 and BNSF tracks has only standard, passive railroad crossbuck and highway stop signs, lacking completely any active protective devices such as flashing lights, bells or crossing gates, items which railroad-generated statistics claim to be over 90% effective in preventing such accidents.

Both the Minnesota State Patrol and the Carlton County Sheriff’s Office investigated the accident with assistance from BNSF Railway.