(Nora Springs, Iowa – December 1, 2017)
A man and his wife, both 66 years old, of Harvard, IL, lost their lives when their 2016 Chevrolet Equinox SUV was struck on the front passenger side by a Canadian Pacific freight train. The collision occurred at the non-gated crossing of CP rails and Zinnia Avenue near 260th Street in Nora Springs, IA about 11:54 A.M., CST Friday.
The driver, James Blazier, and his wife, Dixie, were both pronounced dead at the scene near the Cerro Gordo-Floyd County line. The railroad-highway grade crossing where this incident occurred was at the intersection of Road S-70 (Zinnia Ave.) and CP railroad tracks which carry a daily average of four trains at a maximum allowable speed of 30 mph, according to records kept by the Federal Railroad Administration. A rear seat passenger, Glenda Mundis, 55, also of Harvard, was airlifted to Mercy Medical Center – North Iowa in Mason City for treatment of her critical, crash-caused injuries.
“Right now, it’s still an ongoing investigation, so we don’t know if distracted driving was a part of it, or if they didn’t see the lights or if the lights were even working,” Iowa State Patrol Officer Ben Miller told KIMT-TV, Channel 3 in Mason City. Meanwhile, KIMT reporters noted that “There is not a crossing arm at that crossing.”
KAAL-TV, Channel 6 News reported, “There is not a railroad crossing gate at this intersection, only lights. A Canadian Pacific employee did test the lights and said they appeared to be operational, but cannot confirm they were working at the time of the accident.”
The road/rail intersection comes at the bottom of a declining “dip” in the road surface which serves to help hide approaching trains from the view of motorists. The tragedy was the third collision between trains and motor vehicles to occur there, with the earlier two resulting in a pair of non-fatal injuries.