(Tioga, North Dakota – August 13, 2012)
The 62-year-old driver of a dump truck fully loaded with gravel was killed Monday morning at about 7:30 A.M. when he tried to cross Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad tracks four miles east of Tioga, ND at the dangerous, unguarded crossing of a county road and BNSF tracks.
The ensuing crash caused at least 30 platforms of articulated freight container flat cars to leave the rails and pile up in what was described as “piled several stories high” in an accident scene longer than a football field. The deceased driver, meanwhile, was not identified pursuant to notification of relatives, but was said to be a resident of Parshall, ND.
The cab of the truck was ripped from the chassis, which was buried beneath the derailed cars, and deposited further east by the eastbound train.
Even though the BNSF rail line handles 40 trains, including Amtrak passenger traffic, daily at top speeds of 79 mph, the crossing had no active protection such as flashing lights, bells or gates, depending instead upon standard, passive railroad crossbuck signs to give motorists “protection” from oncoming trains.
The tragedy is being investigated by the North Dakota Highway Patrol, the Mountrail County Sheriff’s Office, and BNSF Railway.