(Littleton, Colorado – May 15, 2018)
A father and son from Thornton, CO were identified as the two people who were killed after their minivan was struck on the passenger’s side by a BNSF freight train. The van was dragged approximately 1,500 feet before it came to a rest. The collision occurred Tuesday afternoon about 12:48 P.M., MDT. at a dangerous and unguarded private crossing leading from an auto salvage yard to an intersection with U.S. Highway 85 (CanAm Highway). The crossing runs narrowly adjacent to the BNSF tracks in Littleton, CO.
The Douglas County Coroner said the driver, Salah Norri Sleah Al Adhamee, 68, was driving as the pair left the salvage yard and headed toward Highway 85, with his 16-year-old son, Noori Salah Noori Al Adhamee, a sophomore at Thornton High School, as his passenger.
Numerous news sources cited the lack of crossing gates as well as flashing light signals as contributory to the double tragedy. The crossing accommodates a daily average of 20 trains pass at a maximum allowable speed of 45 mph. It is virtually certain that this collision would not have occurred if the crossing was equipped with active warning devices. Both 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 accidents by as much as 96%.
The crossing has a deadly history, having been the site of three previous accidents, one which was a fatality in 1979 and another which was a non-fatal injury accident. The other resulted in no injury.