(Aberdeen, South Dakota – October 2, 2020)
A 66-year-old semi tractor-trailer driver was killed after his northbound truck was struck by a BNSF freight train. The collision occurred late Friday afternoon at about 5:30 PM, CST at the dangerous and unguarded crossing of BNSF rails and 379th Avenue in Brown County, 7 miles outside of Aberdeen, SD.
The victim was rushed to a hospital but died later as a result of his traumatic injuries. Authorities from the South Dakota Highway Patrol did not identify the driver pending notification of next of kin.
It was not determined if the position of the setting sun was a contributing factor in the fatality. However, it is practically certain that the addition of automatic lights and gates could have prevented this tragedy. BNSF 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%.
On March 14, 2018, a similar encounter at that crossing between a BNSF train and another semi resulted in no injury to the truck driver. On an average day, a half dozen BNSF freight trains cross 379th Avenue at maximum allowable speeds of 40 mph.