Collision with train kills man

A 40-year-old east Central Alberta man was killed early Sunday when his minivan slammed into the side of a train at a crossing north of Bashaw.

A 40-year-old east Central Alberta man was killed early Sunday when his minivan slammed into the side of a train at a crossing north of Bashaw.

The man was the sole occupant of a minivan that collided with the middle of the freight train about 3:20 a.m. at a crossing on Hwy 21, about 20 km north of Bashaw near the Village of Ferintosh.

He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The crew of the southbound train were unaware of the collision and the train continued on its journey for a few kilometres until Canadian National Railway Co. could be alerted.

The train went on to Mirror where a crew change was made.

The train then continued on to Trochu, where it stopped so members of the Three Hills detachment could help with the investigation.

Bashaw RCMP officers were expected to speak to the first crew and take statements on Sunday, said Bashaw RCMP detachment commander Sgt. Geoff Buxcey. CN Rail is also investigating.

RCMP closed the northbound and southbound lanes of Hwy 21 for about five hours while the accident was investigated.

“He hit the side of the train and kind of spun around right there at the controlled crossing,” said Buxcey. “He didn’t get dragged down (the tracks) though.”

Other travellers came across the accident soon after and called police.

The crossing has lights but no barriers. The flashing warning lights were working at the time of the accident, he said.

“It’s a straight section of highway. The reason why it struck right there, I have no idea.

“There were no skid marks or anything.”

The van was badly damaged. “It’s a complete write-off.”

CN Rail spokeswoman Julie Senecal said the vehicle hit the 65th car on the 100-car grain train.

“There were no injuries to the train crew and minor damage to the rail car,” said Senecal, from Montreal.

The train was inspected and allowed to continue its journey.

Police said an autopsy on the victim will be performed by the Calgary medical examiner’s office this week and toxicology tests conducted.

The man’s family has asked that his name not be released.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com