A “communication breakdown” resulted in a train colliding with two vehicles in Mer Rouge on Sunday afternoon, according to local law enforcement.
Mer Rouge Police Chief Mitch Stephens said officers responded to a trailer stuck on the railroad tracks at the Davenport Avenue intersection around 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
“We had an eighteen-wheeler, pulling a lowboy trailer with equipment on it, get hung up on the tracks,” he said. “Union Pacific was called to stop all [train] traffic coming through Mer Rouge. Apparently there was a communication breakdown and the train was not ordered to stop.”
The engineer of the coming train attempted to apply the emergency brakes, but could not stop in time to avoid striking the trailer at 15 miles per hour. Stephens said the trailer was pushed approximately 10 feet, striking a vehicle belonging to Tubbs Wrecker Service, which was on the scene to remove the stuck trailer. Both the trailer and wrecker received “moderate” damage.
“We were able to clear the intersection by about 5:30 p.m.,” said Stephens. “No one was cited in the accident. I was notified by Union Pacific that one of their people had accidentally given the wrong location [for the stuck trailer].”
The collision occurred just days after Union Pacific Railroad installed a video monitoring system at the Mer Rouge intersection, in an attempt to to enable local law enforcement to identify motorists who illegally cross the tracks. On an average of three to four times per month, a motorists crashes into the cross arms at the intersection attempting to beat an oncoming train.
In May, two women and an unborn child were killed in a train collision at an intersection north of Mer Rouge. Stephens said he was glad Sunday's accident did not also result in tragedy.
“We were very fortunate that no one was hurt this time,” he said.