A man survived being hit by a slow-moving train Friday morning in Spokane.
According to a witness and a spokesman for BNSF Railway Co., the man was walking along Mission Avenue, wearing headphones and looking down, and didn’t notice the southbound train at a pedestrian railroad crossing between North Perry Street and Upriver Drive.
It was about 11 a.m. when Katie Cansler and her boyfriend were in their car, stopped on the east side of the tracks as the train approached. They saw the man was walking toward them from the other side of the crossing.
Cansler’s boyfriend repeatedly honked his car horn to get the man’s attention, she said. The crossing also has flashing lights that should have warned him of the danger.
But the man kept walking, apparently oblivious, Cansler said.
She remembered thinking, “Is he really not stopping yet?”
The man finally looked up and noticed the train while standing on the tracks, Cansler said. He lunged forward and almost made it to the other side unscathed, but the train clipped his shoulder and flipped him onto a mound of snow in the middle of the road.
Cansler said she, her boyfriend, several other witnesses and the train’s engineer rushed to assist the man.
She said he appeared to be in his 40s or 50s and was visibly shaken, clutching his shoulder.
“He seemed to be OK,” Cansler said. “He said, ‘Can you guys just give me a ride home so my wife can give me a ride to the hospital?’ ”
The bystanders insisted the man wait for an ambulance, and when it arrived, he walked to the vehicle without assistance, Cansler said.
BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas said the man was taken to a local hospital and his injuries were not life-threatening.
Melonas said the train had been traveling less than 10 mph, hauling wood and paper products from Chewelah to Spokane. The collision delayed the train’s arrival by two hours, but no other shipments were affected, Melonas said.
The delayed train also blocked all four lanes of Mission Avenue while an insurance claims adjuster assessed the situation.
It was the second time in 24 hours that a pedestrian was struck by a train on a BNSF track in Washington.
Around 7 p.m. Thursday, a woman in her 20s was grazed by a passing train while walking along a railroad bridge in Kent. KOMO News reported she was rushed to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, but was expected to survive.
Melonas stressed that people should not trespass on restricted railroad property, such as bridges, where they can get hurt or killed. He also stressed that pedestrians and drivers should avoid distractions around railroad crossings.
The Governors Highway Safety Association reported this week that 6,227 pedestrians were killed on U.S. roads in 2018, an estimate based on data reported by states. That’s up 4 percent from 2017 and 35 percent since 2008, and the highest pedestrian death toll in 28 years.
The association blames the increase on factors that include distracted or impaired drivers, more people walking to work, and more SUVs on the road, which cause more severe injuries in collisions with people on foot, the Associated Press reported.
Also last year, 23 pedestrians were killed by trains on BNSF tracks in Washington, some of whom were trespassing, Melonas said.
“Lack of attention certainly has been a factor in situations in the past,” he said.
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