March 4, 1995 in Idaho

Man Survives Train Smash Train Was Going Slow Through Rathdrum

By The Spokesman-Review
 

A train smashed into the rear of an 83-year-old man’s car Friday after he failed to stop at the tracks, police said.

Alva Smith of Rathdrum was taken to Kootenai Medical Center where he was listed in fair condition Friday evening.

Smith was driving south on McCartney Street in downtown Rathdrum at about 3 p.m. The Burlington Northern train was traveling southwest when the two collided.

Rathdrum police officer Bert Washburn said the train engineer saw Smith’s car coming and began blasting the train horn.

“He said it looked like the car was going to stop but all of a sudden it just continued on through and he was hit,” Washburn said.

The engineer said Smith never turned his head to look for an oncoming train, said Idaho State Police Cpl. Jonelle Hessler.

The crossing is marked by a stop sign, railroad crossing sign and flashing red lights. Cpl. Hessler said the train was moving slowly since it was about to switch tracks.

Smith suffered minor head injuries.

“It could have been a whole lot worse,” said Rathdrum police officer Alex Carrington. “It’s very rare that you hear of somebody crawling out of a car alive that’s been hit by a train.”

Rathdrum police said accidents at this railroad crossing are rare. Carrington said he remembers only one other, several years ago.

But at the Beck Road railroad crossing near Highway 53 four people were killed in 1994 alone. It has only a stop sign and railroad crossing sign. The intersection is slated to get railroad crossing arms sometime in 1996.

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