(Auburndale, Wisconsin – December 24, 2015)
A 30-year-old Marshfield, WI motorist was pronounced dead at the scene of an early morning collision Thursday at the dangerous and unguarded crossing of George Avenue and Canadian National railroad tracks in rural Auburndale, WI after his southbound pickup truck was struck on the passenger side by an eastbound CN freight train.
The victim was identified by investigators from the Wood County Sheriff’s Office following the tragic 7:17 A.M. crash as Danni H. Zapet Cruz.
The crossing collision between the CNR train, one of 25 that use the crossing daily at a maximum allowable speed of 40 mph, according to Federal Railroad Administration database records, could have been almost expected as an inevitable tragedy, as those same records also reflect that the collision Thursday was the fifth crash between highway vehicles and trains since 2001. As previously mentioned, this crossing lacks any form of active warning devices, such as lights and gates. It is virtually certain that if this crossing was equipped with lights and gates, this accident would not have happened. Both Canadian National 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%.