South Dakota Motorist Seriously Injured at Dangerous, Unguarded Crossing
(Box Elder, South Dakota – November 24, 2017)
A 28-year-old Rapid City, SD man received serious injuries Friday afternoon at about 4:30 P.M., when his 2003 Dodge pickup truck was struck by a Rapid City, Pierre & Eastern RR freight train. The collision occurred at the intersection of the railroad tracks and Radar Hill Road (CR C212) near Box Elder, SD.
Cody Stahly was transported to Rapid City Regional Hospital, where he was admitted in serious condition. The train dragged Cody’s vehicle a quarter of a mile until it came to a rest. The train was one of a daily average of four RCP&E trains that use the crossing daily at a maximum allowable speed of 40 mph. Friday’s injury collision was the sixth collision between trains and motor vehicles since 1999 at this crossing. The most recent prior crash had occurred barely six months ago, on May 25, 2017.
Radar Hill Road has barely enough storage space-for small vehicles to safely fit between clearance of its rails and the busy South Dakota Highway 1416, which parallels RCP&E tracks at that location. Despite this crash history and the unsafe characteristics of the crossing, it lacks any form of active warning device, such as lights and gates, to warn of an oncoming train. It is virtually certain that if this crossing was protected by active warning devices, this collision and the five before it would not have occurred. Both Rapid City, Pierre & Eastern RR 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 accidents by as much as 96%.
The Rapid City, Pierre & Eastern, a South Dakota-based regional railroad which is owned by the large Genesee & Wyoming railroad company, operates over 500 miles of rail route that reach into three other states – Nebraska, Wyoming and Minnesota.