Truckie killed at crossing
Police will continue today to investigate a fatal crash after a man died when the light truck he was driving collided with a train on an uncontrolled rail crossing near Woodville.
The truck and the Palmerston North-bound milk train collided about 5pm yesterday at a rail crossing in Powdrell Rd, about 4 kilometres east of the Tararua town, just off SH2.
The truck was pushed off the crossing onto the side of the tracks, but was not visible from State Highway 2. There were no lights or barrier arms at the crossing to either warn or stop the driver, who had firewood loaded on the truck.
Police, firefighters, St John ambulance paramedics and KiwiRail staff were at the scene last night.
Police initially thought other people could have been in the truck, but later confirmed the driver was the only occupant.
He had to be cut from the cab by firefighters, while rail staff inspected the lines to make sure they were not damaged.
A crane was brought in to lift the truck from the scene. Powdrell Rd was closed while a scene examination was carried out, and the railway lines were also closed.
Woodville Constable Christopher Wakelin said the crash would be investigated to try to establish why the man drove onto the tracks at that time.
The man is the second person to die at a rail crossing this year after a Kaponga farmer's ute was struck by a freight train in Taranaki.
The crash came on the same day KiwiRail and the Chris Cairns Foundation launched a rail safety campaign, urging people to take care near railway lines.
Chris Cairns Foundation manager Megan Drayton said level crossing collisions had been declining, but people still had to be careful.
"Typically, in the period leading up to Christmas, we tend to see a few collisions, possibly due to people being distracted as they head off on holiday.
"We urge people to stay alert over the holiday period, to obey the warning signs at level crossings and to always ensure the line is clear of trains before entering a crossing."
The driver of the train would also have to cope with trauma, she said. "By the time [train drivers] see someone in front of them, there is often little more they can do than sound their horn and hope for the best."
KiwiRail spokeswoman Sarah Pomeroy said train drivers involved in accidents were relieved of their duties immediately and given as much time as they needed before returning to work.
The latest incident comes just over a year since Rosalyn Sylvia Yong, and a dog died at a Horowhenua level crossing. Ms Yong, a rail safety campaigner, died when her car and a 500-metre-long freight train collided at Jacksons Rd, near the Koputaroa Rd intersection, north of Levin. That crossing also had no lights or barrier arms.