(Tower City, North Dakota – September 21, 2013)
This incident happened at a dangerous, unguarded crossing that lacked any active warning devices, such as flashing lights and gates. It is virtually certain that lights and gates would have prevented this incident. Both BNSF and Operation Lifesaver know 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 can gates offer the ability to drastically reduce the number of vehicle/train accidents by as much as 96%.
A 54-year-old motorist, Dawn Flaig of Leonard, ND, had her nearly-new 2012 GMC Acadia totaled Saturday evening at about 7:15 P.M. at the intersection of BNSF railroad tracks and 134th Avenue Southwest on the east edge of Tower City, ND, when she was hit by a BNSF train. She was air-lifted to Essentia Health Hospital in Fargo, ND, where she was admitted in undetermined condition for numerous injuries.
Dawm Flaig was traveling northbound on the county, gravel road when her full-size SUV Crossover was struck by the westbound train, totaled, and ended up in a trackside ditch with the dazed and severely injured victim still inside the wreckage.
According to Federal Railroad Administration-kept, railroad-generated records, an average of 20 BNSF trains cross the 134th Ave. SW intersection daily at a top allowable speed of 60 mph.
The driver was also issued a traffic ticket courtesy of the North Dakota Highway Patrol, for failing to yield to a train she probably never saw nor heard. Public agency law enforcement officers are frequently trained and encouraged by their railroad police counterparts to issue tickets to motorists, regardless of injury or non-existence of active protective devices such as flashing lights, bells and crossing gates, in order to establish the appearance of guilt on the part of the victim.