August 18, 1996 in Idaho

Woman Injured When Car Hit By Freight Train

 

A 26-year-old Rathdrum mother was injured Saturday after her car was hit by a freight train.

Lynnel Phelps was driving her Subaru station wagon Saturday morning when she tried to cross Burlington Northern’s tracks on Mill Street near state Highway 53.

Witnesses said the train was blowing its horn and the crossing lights were flashing when Phelps pulled onto the tracks.

“The train was coming up real fast,” said Scarlett Caswell, who watched the accident from a service station across the highway. “She did see it. It was like she was trying to judge if she could make it. And there was no way she could.”

The five-engine train, which was pulling 32 loaded cars, struck Phelps’ car and spun it into the crossing signal, tearing the signal off its foundation and the entire driver’s side panel off her car, said Idaho State Police trooper Dan Damitio.

Phelps was conscious and moving after the impact, according to witnesses and emergency workers. She didn’t appear to have life-threatening injuries, Damitio said. She was taken to Kootenai Medical Center, where she remained in the emergency room Saturday afternoon.

“I would definitely say her seat belt saved her life,” Damitio said. Had Phelps not been wearing the seat belt, she would have been thrown from the vehicle and run over, he said.

Damitio estimated the train was traveling 45 miles per hour.


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