Train, semi crash in southwest Iowa leaves one person dead

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Published: Jul. 13, 2022 at 5:22 PM CDT
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POTTAWATTAMIE COUNTY, Iowa (WOWT) - One person was killed Wednesday in a crash involving a semi-truck and a train in rural southwest Iowa, south of Walnut.

Chief Deputy Jeff Theulen of the Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Department said the crash happened at about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday at a railroad crossing on 510th Street near Rosewood Road.

Investigators from Iowa Interstate Railroads, Pottawattamie County Medical Examiner, and Sheriff’s Office were at the scene. The Federal Railroad Administration will also complete an investigation.

Theulen told 6 News that the train, traveling eastbound, collided with the semi-tractor-trailer and that it took some time for the train engine to stop.

“It appears the train collided with the semi nearly ‘engine to cab’ on the semi,” Theulen said.

The trailer filled with brewers yeast was severed by the train, carrying the burning cab and its driver about 100 feet down the tracks. The unidentified driver died there, as the surrounding brush caught fire.

“Walnut Fire, Marne Fire, Atlantic Fire, Hancock Fire, and Avoka Fire, those guys did a phenomenal job, got the fire under control right away,” Theulen said.

The body of the truck driver killed in the crash was badly burned and not immediately identifiable. Theulen said they expected identification and notification of family might allow for release of that information on Thursday.

The railroad crossing where this occurred did not have barrier arms. The intersection was expected to remain closed for some time, especially since some of the train cars had derailed.

“It’s a controlled intersection, it has a light and cross-arms at the light, but not across the road. They appear to have been working at the time of the accident,” Theulen said. “We also understand there is a camera at the front of the train, and Iowa Interstate has agreed to cooperate with us and share that video with us from the front of the engine.”

According to Federal Railroad Administration statistics, this is the second rail crossing fatality in Iowa this year. Eight people died in vehicle crashes with trains in the state in 2021.

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