(Wheeler, Wisconsin February 13, 2017)
A 27-year-old local man died early Monday morning at approximately 3:19 A.M., CST, when his northbound pickup truck was struck by a westbound Canadian National freight train at the dangerous and unguarded crossing of Dunn County Highway S and former Wisconsin Central, now CNR railroad tracks. The train struck the 2000 white, extended cab Chevrolet pickup on the passenger side, inflicting heavy damages to the vehicle. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.
Andrew R. Lee of Wheeler was stopping at the intersection of Highway S and Wisconsin Highway 170, which leaves little, if any, storage space for vehicles between the tracks. The tragedy was the first recorded collision at the crossing.
The railroad tracks closely parallel the highway and carries a daily average of a half dozen CN trains at a maximum allowable speed of 40 mph do not have any active warning devices, such as lights and gates. It is virtually certain that if this crossing was equipped with signals, such as lights and gates, this collision would not have happened. 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%.