(Sandpoint, Idaho – August 2, 2023)
A 37-year-old male, a 31-year-old female, and a child were killed in a train collision at an unguarded crossing in Sandpoint, Idaho last month. Another child that was in the vehicle survived and was transported via a life flight to Spokane, WA. The family of four was traveling in a Subaru on July 16, 2023, around 11:14 am when their vehicle was struck by a high-speed train near North Boyer Road and Selle Road, just north of Sandpoint, Idaho. The Idaho State Police reported that all occupants in the vehicle were wearing their seatbelts when the collision occurred, causing the vehicle to overturn.
According to BNSF-submitted records to the federal government, there are no active warning devices, such as lights and gates at this crossing. There are only signs to indicate the presence of a crossing. Additionally, BNSF reports that an average of thirty trains that travel over this crossing at a typical speed of 79 mph. Amtrak trains are also reported to use the rails that traverse this crossing. Yet, there are no active warning devices to provide warning to motorists that there is an approaching high-speed train.
It is virtually certain that the addition of lights and gates could have prevented this horrible loss of life. Both BNSF and Operation Lifesaver know that lights and gates are very effective at preventing these types of tragedies. 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 at a crossing without such devices by over 90%.