(Box Elder, South Dakota – May 17, 2020)
A 30-year-old South Dakota man was hospitalized after his 2002 Ford F-250 pickup truck was demolished by a Rapid City, Pierre & Eastern Railroad freight train. The collision occurred Sunday afternoon at the dangerous and unguarded crossing of RCP&E track and 155th Avenue four miles from Box Elder, SD in Pennington County.
The victim, identified as Mark Staniech, was taken to Monument Health Hospital in Rapid City, SD, where he was admitted for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries. South Dakota Highway Patrol investigating troopers said he was wearing his seat belt., The Pennington County SO was leading the investigation.
The RCP&E railroad is one of the short line and regional railroads of the Genesee & Wyoming conglomerate. The railroad operates over 700 miles of former Canadian Pacific rails through South Dakota and three other upper Midwestern states. According to FRA submitted records, the railroad operates a pair of daily freight trains which cross 155th Avenue near Highway 14-16 at maximum speeds of 40 mph.
There are no active warning devices, such as lights and gates to alert motorists to the presence of an oncoming train. It is virtually certain that lights and gates could have prevented this collision. RCP&E and Operation Lifesaver 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 collisions by as much as 96%.