Railroad, fraternity sued for UND student's rail yard death in 2012


The parents of a college student who died two years ago as a result of an accident in a rail yard in Grand Forks, N.D., are suing the railroad and a fraternity, claiming both parties contributed to their son's death, WDAY reports.

Blake Ayling, 20, a student at the University of North Dakota, was found dead the morning of March 24, 2012, at the rail yard in Grand Forks. He apparently took a shortcut through the yard, which is on the south end of the UND campus. Authorities have said he died of blood loss after his right arm got tangled in a train and was torn off, the Associated Press reports. His death was ruled an accident.

Ayling's roommate said he frequently walked through the rail yard because it was a shortcut back to campus.

Corey and Robin Ayling, who live in Minneapolis, filed the personal injury lawsuit last month against BNSF Railroad and the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, and are seeking at least $50,000 in damages, according to the Grand Forks Herald.

The Aylings claim BNSF knew pedestrians frequently crossed through the rail yard but did not attempt to warn them, or put up barriers to prevent them from walking through the yard.

The lawsuit says the area is dangerous to pedestrians because BNSF crews move the railcars by remote control, and may not be in sight of the moving cars, according to the Herald.

BNSF spokeswoman Amy McBeth said the company is reviewing the lawsuit and will "respond through the legal process."

As for the fraternity, the lawsuit claims it contributed to Ayling's death by allowing him to drink alcohol on their premises. Ayling attended a party at the Phi Kappa Alpha house the night before he died, according to the Herald. An autopsy showed Ayling's blood-alcohol level was .287 at the time of his death. The legal limit is .08.

The fraternity did not respond to requests for comment.

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