Feature Story                                                                                                Tuesday, October 14, 2014


Crossing Crush

Train plows into vehicle after it fails to stop

Staff/Voice photos


An RCMP officer investigates train vs. car accident Tuesday. Below, emergency vehicles sit at the uncontrolled Lickman Rd. crossing


here are two things you don't mess with on the road; that's semi tractor trailers and trains. A young man got the ride of his life just after 4 PM Tuesday when his car was struck by a Southern Railway train after he failed to stop at an uncontrolled crossing on Lickman Road.

When the train plowed into the 2010 Dodge, it buried the unit's knuckle deep into the passenger side door and pushed it down the tracks. It was 15 car lengths (approximately 300 meters) before the train could be brought to a stop.

Fortunately, the driver was able to clamber out of the vehicle with only minor injuries to a shoulder, but the car was a complete write-off.


The train stopped with the caboose partially blocking the northbound lane on Lickman and police closed the road on both sides of the crossing from Keith Wilson to South Sumas for several hours.

Later, the train was backed off and the car remained up the tracks.

A tow truck was brought in, however it had problems negotiating the rails, so crews hooked up chains to the mangled car and used the train's unit to drag it back to the crossing.


While waiting to be relieved, the train's engineer told The Voice that he dynamited the brakes and did everything he could to stop it.

"He's very lucky," he said shaking his head and adding "too bad he ruined a nice new little Dodge."

When trains are involved in serious accidents, it's very stressful for the crew, so a new one is always brought in.

"Now we've got to go have drug tests," said the 70-year-old engineer with decades of experience driving trains under his belt.

Police weren't able to clear the rail line and reopen the road until after 7 PM.

Chilliwack RCMP Upper Fraser Valley Detachment spokesperson Cst. Ashley St. Germaine confirmed in a release on Wednesday that the driver wasn't seriously hurt.

"RCMP members remained on scene until the collision was cleared," she said. "The driver, the sole occupant of the vehicle, was taken to Chilliwack General Hospital with minor injuries."

According to St. Germaine, the cause of the collision is still under investigation.

Last year, a youth driving a tractor was playing loud music and didn't hear a train approaching the South Sumas crossing and was hit by it. Luckily, he escaped with only minor injuries.

There aren't many uncontrolled crossings in Chilliwack. Installing guards and signals at uncontrolled crossings costs somewhere in the vicinity of $100,000, so it is cost-prohibitive for small local railways.


Find tips and learn about rail crossing safety at the BC Ministry of Transportation and at the Operation Lifesaver websites.


See more photos below.

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