Elk River man dies in car-train crash

  • Article by: PAUL LEVY and ABBY SIMONS , Star Tribune staff writers
  • Updated: January 6, 2010 - 9:31 PM

Police say the car's driver may have had a medical problem.

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A westbound BNSF train collided with a southbound car at the Proctor Ave. NW rail crossing a block east of Hy 10 in Elk River Wednesday morning, killing the driver.

Photo: David Brewster, Star Tribune

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A 72-year-old motorist was killed Wednesday morning when his car and a freight train collided in Elk River.

Elk River police identified the victim as Daniel Greene Sr. of Elk River and said a preliminary investigation indicated that Greene was driving south on Proctor Avenue about 10:30 a.m., as he approached the railroad tracks.

Witnesses said his vehicle, a 2006 Nissan Altima, slowly edged forward under the railroad warning arms. The car moved onto the tracks, and the westbound BNSF Railway freight train hit it, police said.

Police Chief Jeff Beahen said that Greene had medical issues, but he couldn't confirm that was a factor in the crash.

"We hope the medical examiner will find something in the autopsy that indicates he had some pre-accident event occur," Beahen said.

"That would appear to be a very likely causation at this point. He does have a medical history."

Greene's son, Daniel Greene Jr., said his father had left home to go to the bank when the accident occurred, Beahen said.

BNSF officials were at the scene Wednesday afternoon, in part to make sure the crossing signal was working properly; Beahen said it was.

They also wanted to make sure that the Northstar commuter rail line -- which extends from Minneapolis to Big Lake and goes through Elk River -- could make its afternoon runs.

Northstar service was unaffected by the accident, although an unrelated problem caused one afternoon train to leave seven minutes late, said Ed Byers, director of commuter rail for Metro Transit.

BNSF spokesman Steve Forsberg said the train, carrying a variety of freight, was westbound from Minneapolis to Pasco, Wash., and was unable to stop in time to avoid striking the vehicle. Once cleared, the train continued heading west.

plevy@startribune.com • 612-673-4419 asimons@startribune.com • 612-673-4921

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