Another train fatality rocks district

A local man was killed Saturday when a westbound CN locomotive collided with the grader he was operating at a level crossing on George Armstrong Road, just east of the Noden Causeway.
Wayne Wickstrom, 39, of Fort Frances already was dead when the OPP arrived at the scene around 5:25 p.m.
This was yet another in a series of fatal accidents involving train-vehicle collisions at level crossings in the district over the past several years.
The most recent occurred last September when two women were killed when their vehicle was struck by a train on Couchiching near the Five-Mile Dock.
“In general, the trend has shown the number of fatalities taking a downturn in the last few years,” said Ian Thomson, director of public affairs for CN Rail.
“Nationally, the number of fatalities at crossings has only been in the mid-20s, and that includes CN, CP, etc.,” he continued. “We feel quite positively about those statistics but still is one too many.
“Amazingly, about half those incidents happen at crossing with lights, bells, and gates,” noted Thomson. “We can only guess at the reason as to why people still cross.”
Citing possible reasons such as inattentiveness, the fact trains cannot brake quickly, people being in a hurry, and misjudgment, Thomson said the latter most likely was the greatest cause.
“I think people too often misjudge how fast a train is coming,” he remarked. “We’ve found most people judge a full-speed train as only travelling half as fast as it really is.
“With that kind of ‘reasoning,’ there’s no way you can win,” he said.
“No matter how much we stress crossing safety, accidents always seem to happen, though,” he admitted.