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GRAND FORKS, ND – A body was discovered Saturday morning, March 23 by a BNSF railroad conductor near the train tracks located west of the Columbia Road overpass in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

Location where body was found by BNSF conductor on March 23, 2012. PHOTO: WDAZ-TV

Amy McBeth, a Twin Cities spokeswoman for BNSF Railway, confirmed that the body was found at about 7:30 a.m by a train conductor doing an inspection. She said the body was not a railroad worker and that details about the person would be left up to the police to report.

The yard and track area are private property and are off-limits to the public. “No Trespassing” signs are posted at several points.

“Our operations occur at the yard 24 hours a day,” McBeth said. “Employees are switching cars and putting together trains so there is railroad activity. It is not a location that would allow for people to gather. Anyone in the yard who is not authorized to be there, or anyone passing through the yard, would be trespassing, which we take very seriously. It is illegal and very dangerous to trespass on railroad property.”

The West Central Tribune reports that police have identified the man found dead Saturday as 20-year-old UND student Blake Christopher Ayling.

The preliminary investigation showed that Ayling was going through the yard when he was struck by a moving train.

Although police said his injuries are consistent with being hit by a train, the cause of death won’t be established until an autopsy is performed, which could be a several-week process

The incident remains under investigation at this time.


Published by FELA Lawyer News Blog, a FELA, train accident and railroad worker injury blog that publishes up to date train accidents and FELA legal news from across the United States. The Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) governs the employee’s right to recovery, governing the rights and remedies of railroad employees.

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