The Associated Press reports that a BNSF train hit a school bus in Larimore, North Dakota, on the afternoon of January 5. According to local reports, the 62-year-old bus driver and a 17-year-old student were fatally injured when a BNSF train hit the school bus they were traveling in. In addition, 11 people who were on the school bus when the BNSF train hit it were treated for injuries.
Over the past few months, there have been several incidents where a BNSF train was hit or hit a vehicle. In Houston on January 2, the Chron reports that a BNSF train hit cars when the crossing arms were tampered with. In January 2014, the Duluth News Tribune states that a BNSF train derailed near Larimore in Casselton, North Dakota, and triggered fires and explosions outside of Fargo.
The school bus hit by the BNSF train was from the Larimore School District, and was performing normal drop-off duties when the accident occurred at about 3:40 p.m. The accident involving the train hitting the school bus took place in the northeastern part of the district.
Grand Forks County’s sheriff Bob Rost reported to KFGO that the school bus was traveling on a gravel road and headed north, and was hit by a BNSF westbound freight train. This caused the BNSF train to hit the passenger side of the school bus.
Authorities initially investigated the accident to determine if the weather or the school bus driver were to blame for the BNSF train hitting the bus. Sadly, the Jamestown Sun reported several hours after the school bus was hit by the BNSF train that the weather conditions were clear.
Lieutenant Troy Hischer of the North Dakota Highway Patrol told reporters that the intersection had a stop sign, but the school bus driver failed to yield to the oncoming BNSF train. Lieutenant Hischer could not reveal the names of the minors involved in the school bus accident, but stated that the injured have been taken to Altru Hospital in Grand Forks, about 30 miles east of Larimore. There were representatives from grades K-12 on the school bus hit by the BNSF train.
BNSF public relations staff person Amy McBeth says that there was no cargo on the freight train involved in the school bus accident. No BNSF crew members have reported injuries from when the BNSF train hit the school bus.
A report by KX4 in Larimore states that BNSF will conduct their own investigation, as well as providing rescue personnel, emergency personnel, and life-flight helicopters.