Deschutes County deputies: Driver, 74, said he did not look for train
(Update: More information from sheriff's office; driver in critical condition)
REDMOND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A freight train struck a pickup truck at a railroad crossing south of Redmond Wednesday morning, sending the 74-year-old driver to the hospital by air ambulance with life-threatening injuries, authorities said.
The crash was reported around 8:20 a.m. on Gun Club Road, near SW Young Avenue and S. Highway 97, near the Redmond Rod and Gun Club and next to a solar energy farm.
Deschutes County sheriff's deputies arrived to find the driver of the 2007 Dodge 2500 pickup, David J. Gilbert, 74, of Crooked River Ranch, pinned inside the truck, which was pushed about 100 feet north of the crossing, Sgt. Grant Johnstone said.
A deputy was first on scene, providing initial care for Gilbert. A Life Flight helicopter was called in to take him to St. Charles Bend, where he was listed in critical condition late Wednesday afternoon.
Redmond Fire Battalion Chief Garrick Terry said the crash occurred at a railroad crossing on a private road leading to the gun club location.
Gilbert’s pickup was struck on the passenger side while crossing the tracks in a location with a stop sign and warning signs, but not controlled by crossing arms, Johnstone said.
“Gilbert told deputies on scene that he did not look for the train as he was crossing the tracks,” Johnstone said, adding that he also did not mention hearing the horn.
The train stopped about a quarter-mile down the tracks and remained on scene during the investigation, Johnstone said. BNSF Railway Police arrived to conduct their own investigation. No citations have been issued at this time, the sergeant said.
Due to the location between Bend and Redmond, both cities' fire departments both sent crews to the scene, he said.
Terry said the pickup had been heading east at the time of the collision.
BNSF Railway spokesman Gus Melonas said the five-car northbound train was going about 40 mph when the crew spotted the pickup on the tracks, sounded its horn and hit the emergency brake, but still struck the vehicle.
Melonas said the "switcher" train was coming out of Bend and hauling local freight to businesses in the area. The train crew was unhurt and there was no derailment or damage to the track. They expected to have the tracks cleared and reopened by late morning.