A pedestrian died on Sunday morning after being struck by a train near downtown Seattle. The incident occurred in the 100 block of South Holgate Street. The train was shut down for several hours so officers with the Seattle Police Department could investigate the scene. Holgate Street was also shut down between 3rd Avenue South and Occidental Avenue South.
Details on the pedestrian’s cause of death have not yet been released. The victim was a 55-year-old man. No information has been released yet about what he was doing in the area.
(Image: A BNSF train passing through downtown Seattle. This train was photographed near SAM’s Olympic Sculpture Park. Unlike the LINK light rail train, BNSF’s trains run through heavily trafficked roads and pedestrian crossings in the downtown core. Image source: The Seattle Times)
A History Of BNSF Accidents
The victim was killed on a track used by the BNSF Railway. The tracks are usually used for freight trains, although the Sounder train does carry passengers along the same tracks.
Like all rail companies, BNSF has a history of accidents and incidents along its tracks. A number of those incidents have occurred in Washington state. In 2014, a BNSF train derailed in Kent after a mudslide. The incident disrupted Amtrak trains that use the same tracks. Another train, this one carrying hazardous oil, derailed in Seattle’s Interbay neighborhood in the same year. In 2012, a mudslide knocked seven train cars off the tracks in Everett, causing delays on the line and necessitating a cleanup operation after the freight cars split open. In 2011, three crew members working for BNSF were killed in Kelso, Washington when the vehicle they were riding in was struck by a train at a private level crossing. In 2008, a train struck a big rig and dragged it a quarter mile along the track in Marysville, Washington.
Unlike Seattle’s light rail, which runs mostly on grade-separated tracks in the downtown core, BNSF trains run at street level. This means that pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers must frequently cross the train tracks to get to popular downtown destinations. The long freight trains carry immensely heavy loads, and even travelling at a low speed, they are extremely difficult to stop when a driver spots an obstacle on the tracks ahead.
Local residents have also protested the prevalence of trains hauling oil and coal on BNSF tracks. In 2016, protesters shut down the tracks for several hours in Bellingham, Washington. Another 2016 protest shut down tracks in Spokane, Washington. Seattleites have also expressed concern over open-top freight cars carrying coal through the city center. In 2016, BNSF paid $1 million towards cleanup projects to remove coal accumulation along its tracks. In 2017, the company settled a Clean Water Act lawsuit requiring it to clean up the coal and petroleum coke that had spilled from its open-top cars. BNSF will also be studying the possibility of using physical covers on its coal cars.
What To Do After A Train Crash
Personal injury cases involving trains can be particularly complicated. Each year, approximately 600 people died in train accidents in the United States, and 2,500 more are injured. Determining liability after these accidents often involves a long and complicated investigation. In some cases, investigators find that the victims should have been able to see warning lights and signs. In others, they find that those warnings were missing or not used properly, or they discover that proper maintenance and operation of the train could have prevented the accident.
If you or your loved one has been the victim of a train crash, a train accident lawyer can help answer your questions about this complicated field of law. You may be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, pain and suffering, wage loss, loss of support, and other expenses that you incurred as a result of the accident.