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COON RAPIDS MN – A Burlington-Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad worker was killed when he was struck by a Northstar commuter train in Coon Rapids, MN on Wednesday, September 1, 2010. The train was bound for Minneapolis at the time of the incident.

BNSF railroad worker killed by Northstar commuter train in Coon Rapids, MN on September 1, 2010. Photo credit: Richard Tsong-Taatarii, Minneapolis Star Tribune

Coon Rapids is in Anoka County, Minnesota in the east-central part of the state about 11 miles north of Minneapolis.

The victim was identified as Andrew Weaver, 53 years old, from Fridley, MN. The accident occurred around 6:50 a.m. near the Egret Boulevard railroad crossing.

According to the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office, Weaver was testing the rails near the intersection with Egret Boulevard this morning. He was working with a short three-car test train that had stopped just west of the rail crossing.

Weaver was waiting for another railroad employee and had been talking on his cell phone at the time. He stepped out from behind some cars and onto the tracks when he was hit by the eastbound commuter rail train, which was moving at about 80 mph at the time.

Location of accident in Coon Rapids, MN where BNSF railroad worker was killed by commuter train.

The engine of the test train was left running and the Sheriff’s Office believes he couldn’t hear the commuter train coming.

All railroad crossings in Coon Rapids are quiet zones. This means that the railroad crossing was a “no whistle” zone that prohibits the sounding of train horns.

According to an article in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune website a local resident who lives within a block of the tracks said that the engineer of the Northstar train apparently did sound a warning. He said that the engineer “was tooting his horn, which they usually don’t do.”

Lt. Paul Sommer from the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office said that it is believed that the engineer of the Northstar train could not see Weaver because he had just stepped out from behind the test train directly into the path of the Northstar train. This was a terrible and unfortunate tragedy.

It took the commuter train about three quarters of a mile to come to a stop.

Train traffic on the tracks were shut down for several hours after the accident, but service resumed later in the afternoon.

Below is a Google street view of the railroad crossing at Egret Blvd. You can click the mouse and drag it around to get a full 360° view of the intersection.

View Larger Map

According to Metro Transit spokesman, Bob Gibbons, there were 150 to 200 passengers on the train. After the train stopped, they were taken to Minneapolis by buses.

Gibbons said that Metro Transit operates the Northstar system, but the crew members are BNSF employees.

The accident is currently being investigated by the Coon Rapids Police Department, Metro Transit Police, the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office and the Anoka County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Published by FELA lawyer Gordon, Elias & Seely, LLP

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