Police: Driver ignored flashing lights in car-train collision that injured 5


Five people were injured when their car was struck by a Canadian Pacific train in Owatonna, and police believe the driver of the vehicle ignored flashing red lights at the railroad crossing, the Post Bulletin reports.

The crash happened shortly before 11 p.m. Wednesday. The crossing – at State Avenue between Florence Avenue and North Street – has no stop arms on the tracks, according to the Owatonna People's Press. Police say the driver, a 30-year-old Fairbault man, disregarded the flashing red lights at the crossing and collided with the westbound train.

The driver along with four passengers between the ages of 20 and 24 were all injured in the crash, according to media reports. One of the passengers sustained a head injury and is listed in serious condition; three of the passengers were airlifted to a local hospital. No one on the train was injured, the People's Press said.

A spokesperson for the railroad said the bells and lights at the crossing were working properly.

"The train crew sounded the whistle and applied the train's emergency brake, but unfortunately was unable to stop," Andy Cummings, the railroad spokesperson, told the People's Press. "It can take a mile or more to come to a complete stop."

Collisions between trains and cars have been making headlines lately. Last week, police said a woman was hit and killed by a train after driving around railroad crossing arms in Independence. Last month, a man was killed after colliding with a train in northwest Minnesota.

The chance of death or serious injury from a motor vehicle-train crash is 11 times greater than for other highway collisions, the Minnesota Department of Transportation reports.

According to Federal Railroad Administration statistics, 2,087 highway-rail grade crossing collisions occurred in 2013. There were 251 fatalities. Of those, there were 53 collisions in Minnesota and six deaths, according to Operation Lifesaver, an organization that focuses on rail safety education.

Minnesota ranks 15th in the nation for highest number of highway-rail crashes, and 12th for fatalities and injuries resulting from these crashes, according to Operation Lifesaver.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation says people need to use common sense and heed railroad warning signs to avoid these types of accidents. While some people may not be familiar with highway-rail warning signs, "others simply ignore all warning signs because they are in a hurry. Driver ignorance and impatience are the most common factors contributing to motor vehicle, train crashes," MnDOT says on its website.

Officials said it's important to never try to beat a train at a railroad crossing – it’s hard to judge their speed and they appear to be moving slower than they actually are. Operation Lifesaver has published various safety tips regarding this issue.

Next Up

Karl-Anthony Towns

Wolves-Grizzlies game off, KAT tests postive for COVID

The Timberwolves star was among several players that are dealing with COVID-related issues.

minnesota state fair

Planning for the 2021 Minnesota State Fair is underway

The fair suffered huge financial losses due to COVID-19, but organizers are moving forward with planning "different scenarios" for this summer.

Screen Shot 2021-01-15 at 2.16.44 PM

Heather Brown named as new WCCO 'This Morning' anchor

She will be joining Jason DeRusha on the CBS affiliate's Morning Show.

DPS John Harrington

DPS Commissioner: No credible threats to state Capitol, but ready if something arises

Local and state law enforcement officials have a plan in case a threat arises.

snow, slush (submitted photo, ok to use)

Here are snow totals from Thursday-Friday winter storm

It's a slushy mess in the metro, but snow did pile up in southern counties.

tim walz

Walz fury after report that government's COVID vaccine reserve is nonexistent

The Washington Post reported Friday that the Trump Administration has shipped out all the vaccines it has already, with none in reserve.

closed sign

What's open and closed in Minnesota on MLK Day 2021?

Local government offices will generally be closed on Monday.

BMTN 900x450 (8)

Company that falsely promised student loan forgiveness banned from MN

It's also been ordered to repay $11,499 in fees taken from Minnesotans.

covid-19, coronavirus

Here is Minnesota's COVID update for January 15

Hospitalizations are the lowest in Minnesota since October 25.


Osterholm: B117 COVID strain could become major issue in 6-8 weeks

The B117 variant is believed to be more easily transmitted.