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Ryan Johnson, Published October 13 2012

69-year-old man struck, killed by train in Casselton

CASSELTON, N.D. – A man was killed here Saturday afternoon when he was struck by a train.

North Dakota Highway Patrol Sgt. Dave Wolf said authorities responded to the pedestrian accident at 4:09 p.m. at a crossing that runs across state Highway 18, known as Langer Avenue in Casselton.

The 69-year-old Casselton resident was pronounced dead at the scene, Wolf said. Authorities aren’t identifying the victim until his family has been notified.

Wolf said the railroad crossing is in a quiet zone, meaning extra safety precautions have been put in place and trains don’t sound their horns except in emergencies.

But he said it was too early to know if that had anything to do with the accident, and said the train’s conductors saw the man and blew the horn as a warning signal.

“Everything points to the crossing arms were working at the time of the collision,” he said.

Wolf said an eyewitness reported that the victim was walking southbound on the north side of the tracks. After a westbound train cleared the intersection, the man began to cross the tracks while the arms were still down.

An eastbound train was approaching the intersection at that time. The engineer blew the whistle to warn the pedestrian, according to the eyewitness, but he couldn’t make it across the tracks and was struck by the train.

Casselton native Paige Cote was working at the Petro Serve USA convenience store just south of the crossing Saturday afternoon but said she

didn’t see the accident.

She said she doesn’t recall the town ever having a serious train accident. But she wondered if the crossing’s quiet zone designation, which has been in place since this summer, might have contributed to Saturday’s fatality.

“With the quiet zone, they assume it automatically makes it safe,” Cote said. “But I think it puts everybody at ease maybe more than it should. It kind of takes away from the necessity of still looking for the train.”

Wolf expected the initial investigation at the scene of the crash to be completed by Saturday evening. He said the Highway Patrol, Cass County Sheriff’s Office and the Cass County coroner would continue to work with BNSF officials over the coming days to determine what happened.

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Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan Johnson at (701) 241-5587