Three survive car-train collision in Coon Rapids

An adult and two children survived when the car in which they were traveling was struck by a Burlington-Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) train in Coon Rapids Monday morning.

The incident occurred at the BNSF single-line rail crossing on 121st Avenue about 10 a.m.

According to the Coon Rapids Police report, the driver, Todd Denis Gertzen, 45, St. Michael, was taking two girls, siblings ages 10 and 7, to Sand Creek Elementary School.

He told police that he was talking to the girls as they approached the railroad tracks eastbound on 121st and when he looked up, he saw the crossing arm was going down.

He braked, but the car slid into the crossing arm, which hit the windshield of the car, and as he tried to put the car in reverse, the tires kept spinning in the snow and he could not get the car to move off the tracks, the police report states.

The northbound train struck the front passenger side of the vehicle, which spun the vehicle upside down and it landed on its side in a ditch just north of 121st west of the tracks, according to the police report.

Gertzen and the girls were able to climb out of the car.

He was taken to the hospital complaining of rib pain.

The two girls were released to their mother after the accident and she took them to the hospital to be checked out.

The seven-year-old had a broken wrist and the 10-year-old had some neck pain, the police report states.

According to the police report, the train’s conductor said the speed of the train was 25 mph when it struck the car.

The line was closed for two hours in the wake of the accident, said Capt. John Hattstrom, Coon Rapids Police.

“They were very lucky,” Hattstrom said.

Police issued Gertzen with citations for failure to stop at the railroad crossing and failure to drive with due care due to poor road conditions.

He was given a court date of Jan. 7, 2013.

Peter Bodley is at
[email protected]

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