February 10, 1996 in Idaho

Hayden Man Hurt In Car-Train Crash Driver Failed To Stop; Says Bad Road Distracted Him

By The Spokesman-Review
 

A 42-year-old Hayden man was injured Friday after he pulled his car in front of an oncoming train.

Frank Yetter’s car was dragged almost 70 yards down the tracks, before it was dropped in a crumpled heap.

“He was awfully lucky,” said Robert Roman, a Post Falls man who watched from his nearby home as Yetter pulled himself out of his mangled BMW.

Yetter was treated for minor injuries at Kootenai Medical Center and released.

From 1991 to 1995, Kootenai County had the second highest number of fatal and injury train-vehicle accidents in Idaho, according to a new report released by the Idaho Transportation Department.

Kootenai County shares that statistic with Canyon County - both reported 16 fatal and injury accidents. Bonner County had 18 such collisions - putting it in the number one spot, according to the ITD report.

“People need to slow down enough to check both ways (at railroad crossings),” said Kootenai County sheriff’s Deputy Danielle Kazmierski. “I think they get complacent because they go by there so many times and there isn’t anything, but when there is, it’s a surprise.”

Drivers failing to stop at railroad crossings is the number one cause of train-car collisions, according to the report.

At about 2:10 p.m. Friday, Yetter was driving his car west on Prairie Avenue near Idaho Road north of Post Falls. The 12-car train was traveling southwest at about 40 mph.

Prairie Avenue intersects with railroad tracks in an X pattern. Although railroad crossing signs mark the intersection, there is no stop sign.

Yetter was driving through a damaged part of Prairie filled with sand when he forgot to look for any oncoming trains, Kazmierski said.

“He said ‘I was too busy trying to get out of that sand,”’ Kazmierski said. Yetter told her he also did not hear the train whistle.

The collision scattered BMW parts down the tracks.

“I saw the man crawling out of his car,” said Roman, who rushed across the street to help. “He put a piece of cloth against his face, he was bleeding. He was kind of half in shock and half disbelief.”

Yetter suffered bruises and a large split from his lower lip to his chin. He was able to call emergency officials with his cellular phone.

Roman said he is especially careful when driving through the intersection because it is at an awkward angle.

Statewide, the number of trainvehicle accidents have been decreasing over the past five years. There were 66 collisions in 1991 and 34 in 1995, according to the ITD report.

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