(Barron, Wisconsin – September 2, 2017)
A female motorist, said to be if Somali heritage, died Saturday morning at about 10:43 A.M., CDT, when the sedan she was driving was struck by a Canadian National freight train at the dangerous, unguarded and heavily foliage-obscured crossing of North Mill Street in Barron, WI.
Asli Abdi Hayir was pronounced dead at the scene after being hit by the train. The train was one of a pair of trains that cross there daily at a maximum allowable speed of 25 mph. It is likely Ms. Hayir never saw the train coming as it emerged from a screen of heavy brush and tree overgrowth. This vegetation prevents drivers from obtaining any sight distance down the tracks in either direction.
Hayir’s as-yet unidentified by name male passenger was seriously injured in the collision. He was first transported to the Mayo Clinic Health System Hospital in Barron before being airlifted to the Mayo Clinic in Eau Claire, WI for treatment of his crash-suffered injuries. Ages and home towns of each victim were not immediately available from police and Barron County Sheriff’s deputies investigating the crash.
The tragic accident is the sixth to have occurred at the road/rail crossing, which not protected by any active warning devices, such as lights and gates. It is virtually certain that if this crossing was protected by active warning devices, this collision and the eight before it would not have occurred. Both CN 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%.