Local man killed in collision with train

Earl Clark, 84, of Miles City died after a westbound BNSF train hit the Chevrolet pickup truck he was driving on the tracks northeast of the Leighton Boulevard crossing late Friday night.

The accident was reported at 10:49 p.m. Friday, according to Miles City Fire and Rescue.

Kathleen Cain and her husband Steven were home when they heard an engine racing and a driver trying to get his vehicle off the tracks near Alberts Trailer Court. 

Steven Cain ran out to help the driver as his wife called the police but the train arrived first, she said.

She said the pickup’s driver’s side tires were stuck on the tracks and the driver could not move the truck. 

The pickup was facing toward Leighton and the train hit the rear driver’s side of the pickup and pushed it off the tracks.

The train was grinding against the side of the truck as it attempted to stop. 

The Montana Highway Patrol reported the train pushed the pickup off the north side of the tracks.

Steven Cain told his wife that Clark was having trouble breathing when the ambulance arrived.

Clark was pronounced dead at Holy Rosary Healthcare hospital.

BNSF spokesman Ross Lane said the empty 115-car coal train with four locomotives was westbound when the accident occurred. The train horn was sounded when the crew saw the pickup before impact and the crew immediately began the emergency brake application. 

He said the driver was trespassing on BNSF property and he did not know how the driver gained access to the property.

BNSF is investigating internally and is cooperating with local law enforcement’s investigation.  

Lane said he did not know the speed of the train.

The investigating MHP officer was not available Monday morning to answer more questions.

Coroner Tony Harbaugh said Clark was born in Brussett, lived in Garfield County, then ranched for many years in the Volborg area. He was a resident of Miles City at the time of the accident. 

Lane said the safest area around train tracks is at crossings. The other areas are dangerous places to be.

He encouraged people to go to the “See Tracks? Think Train” website at www.seetracksthinktrain.org to learn about how to stay safe.