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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
News >  Idaho

Man standing on tracks run over by freight train

From staff reports The Spokesman-Review

A former Boundary County sheriff’s deputy died Friday evening when a freight train ran over him as he stood on the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe tracks near Bonners Ferry, Idaho.

Idaho State Trooper Kevin Bennett said suicide was a possibility in the death of 42-year-old Peter E. Atkins.

“He stood there and waited for a train to hit him,” Bennett said.

The incident occurred at 7:20 p.m. Friday at the intersection of County Roads 2 and 6, near Naples, Idaho, nine miles south of Bonners Ferry.

The 106-car train, with a weight of 14,000 tons, was traveling 30 mph and couldn’t avoid hitting Atkins.

Witnesses said crossing gates, lights and bells all were activated, and the train was sounding its horn as it approached.

Bennett said the incident was still under investigation Saturday. He said toxicology test results weren’t available, but alcohol may have been a factor.

“There was an odor of alcohol at the scene,” Bennett said.

It also was likely that Atkins was depressed, Bennett said.

Law enforcement sources said Atkins was a longtime area police officer.

He had been a Boundary County sheriff’s deputy for several years when he left last summer to take a job with the Clearwater County Sheriff’s Office in central Idaho.

“It’s a real tragedy,” Bennett said. “These poor train operators, they don’t sign on for that.”

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