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It's not often someone has a run-in with a train and lives to tell about it. A terrifying train crash left a KELOLAND truck driver battered and bruised, but alive.
It happened last week when Ray Barrett was driving his semi from Pollock, South Dakota through Morris, Minnesota on highway 28. Now he's hoping his ordeal will prevent another accident.
Barrett has driven the same route for years when hauling cheese from Pollack, South Dakota to Wisconsin. Even though he's never seen a train on that particular crossing, he knew that crossing could be dangerous.
Barrett says, "There's a few times I went across that track and kind a held my breath because I didn't check to see if anything was coming from the north."
Ray Barrett escaped death. With only a sore body to show from last week's collision, he recalls what happened. "The only thing that really sticks out was when I got on them breaks that hard all that squealing and howling."
Even though signs marked the tracks, with out reflectors the rail road cars were almost invisible in the middle of the night. That's why he didn't see the train passing just in front of him on the highway.
Barrett says, "Then I realized after the second car come what it was and then I just locked up the breaks."
Just before impact Barrett turned the semi in the direction the train was heading, a decision that probably saved his life.
"It took me a little while to get my bearings, I couldn't move at first and then I sat back up in the seat and the train was still going by, they never stopped the train and that was only inches from my head."
The passenger side of his cab hit the train and the semi trailer slid into the cars. Climbing out of the truck he was met by the highway patrol and paramedics who took him to the hospital in Morris. Today he hopes more crossing lights and reflectors on train cars can be used to make train crossings stand out. Barrett says the ordeal has made him more alert.
"I'll be looking," says Barrett.
Two other people have been killed at that crossing. Barrett is the only survivor of a crash at that crossing and says warning lights are needed to avoid any other fatalities. Barrett's truck is a total loss.