Collision Near Bainville Claims Sidney Man
Improvements Planned At Deadly Rail Crossing
A Sidney man is dead after an Amtrak passenger train collided with a John Deere 4940 sprayer tractor at mile marker 653 on U.S. Highway 2 between Bainville and Culbertson May 29. The accident occurred shortly before 11 a.m. A small fire also broke out at the scene.
Rocky Norby, 65, was driving the tractor and died on impact. According to Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Ross Tuggle, the train was likely traveling at approximately 75 miles per hour at the time of the crash. The crossing, located a few feet from the highway on County Road 1012, has no crossing arms or flashing lights.
According to Roosevelt Medical Center EMS incident commander Teresa Moore, 63 passengers were on board the train. Four of them were treated for minor injuries. An Amtrak spokesman confirmed that three crew members were treated for injuries as well.
Passengers were taken to Culbertson High School after the crash for triage before shuttles ferried them to another train. At press time, the damaged train remained parked west of the grain elevators in Culbertson.
According to Amtrak, the train remained upright as it lost contact with the tracks. The train had damage to its front engine and the tracks were damaged in the crash, said Roosevelt County Sheriff Jason Frederick. The line was closed for investigation and repair work, delaying at least one eastbound Amtrak train headed for Wolf Point.
Two Culbertson men died last August at the same crossing. According to Roosevelt County Commissioner Gordon Oelkers, efforts have been underway since last fall to improve the crossing.
“Our area communities have lost three lives in less than a year at this railroad crossing,” said Oelkers. “Last fall, the county voted to replace the old bridge with a culvert and widen the road to 28 feet using bridge and road safety funds. This culvert project is bid out and once we receive all the BNSF permits, work will start this summer.”
Oelkers said the bridge replacement and road widening will precede the addition of flashing lights and crossing arms, which he hopes will be completed by summer of 2021.
Said Oelkers, “Montana Department of Transportation district administrator Shane Mintz stated a study will be done as a first step to get federal safety funds to place lights and arms at the crossing. This has been a process that seems slow, but we are looking forward to next summer when we can place lights and arms on the dangerous crossing.”
Responding agencies included Roosevelt Medical EMTs, Roosevelt County Sheriff’s Office, Montana Highway Patrol, Roosevelt County Disaster and Emergency Services, Bainville Volunteer Fire Department, Culbertson Volunteer Fire Department and the Poplar Volunteer Fire Department.