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Mother hospitalized after train smashes van

A woman who had just dropped off her child at an elementary school was broadsided by a train this morning as she drove her minivan in east Spokane County.

Maria L. Walsh, 44, is in critical condition after being airlifted to a hospital from the crash scene on Arden Road south of Wellesley Avenue, according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

Investigators don’t know if Walsh stopped her southbound 1998 Dodge Caravan before entering the crossing and being struck by a Union Pacific Railroad about 8:45 a.m. The train engine was running backward to Idaho to do “switching chores” and wasn’t pulling any rail cars when it hit the van at about 48 mph, according to the sheriff’s office.

A detective said visibility around the crossing, which is marked only by stop signs, was good, and drug and alcohol don’t appear to be a factor.