(Ray, North Dakota – October 9, 2014)
A 55-year-old semi-trailer truck driver from Show Low, AZ lost his life Thursday afternoon at about 3:20 P.M. when his truck was struck by a northeast-bound freight train, dragged the length of three football fields, and exploded into flames as it was eastbound on 65th Street Northwest, north of Ray, ND, at the dangerous and unguarded railroad crossing of BNSF Railway tracks.
Marion Ray Daniel was pronounced dead at the scene. According to Federal Railroad Administration statistics, the single-track BNSF/65th Street NW crossing accommodates 40 trains daily, including two Amtrak passenger trains, at top allowable speeds of 79 mph, yet is not equipped with any active warning devices, such as lights and gates. It is virtually certain that if equipped with lights and gates this accident would not have happened. Both BNSF and Operation Lifesaver know 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%.
Thursday’s accident was the third occurring there. It was, however, the first fatality suffered.
The North Dakota Highway Patrol investigated the crash, which occurred in western North Dakota’s oil patch.