STURGIS | A Lemmon man escaped serious injury in a car-train collision Thursday evening in south Sturgis.
Sturgis Police Chief Geody VanDewater said a Jeep driven by Robert Wallace, 77, was struck by a Rapid City, Pierre & Eastern freight train at the rail crossing on Ball Park Road at about 5:39 p.m.
The northbound train struck Wallace’s westbound 2015 Jeep Cherokee in the driver’s door and pushed the vehicle more than 700 feet along the tracks before the train came to a stop near the dead-end of McNenny Street.
According to the Meade County Emergency Management office, first responders from the Sturgis Police Dept., Sturgis Volunteer Fire Dept., Meade County Sheriff's Office and Emergency Management, helped Wallace from his vehicle.
VanDewater said Wallace walked with assistance to an ambulance.
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He was taken to Monument Health Sturgis Hospital with apparently only minor injuries.
VanDewater said the train’s crew had made the required horn blasts as it approached the intersection, but began to apply the train’s brakes when they saw Wallace’s vehicle proceeding into the path of the train, which is limited to no more than 20 miles per hour through town.
VanDewater said two tow trucks were needed to remove the Jeep from the track. The train, with a consist of freight cars, continued to block several intersections in south Sturgis until later into the evening.
“Act of God. That’s all I can say,” VanDewater said of the lack of serious injuries.
“In my time here, I’ve seen a few accidents there along these tracks. I think with the low speeds and luck, they’ve all had to be cut out of their cars. We’ve been very fortunate, they’ve all been minor injuries.”
VanDewater reminded motorists to take care on the half-dozen train crossings in Sturgis.
“We need to make sure, whether it’s day or night, to always look both ways, and make sure we yield to trains, and it doesn’t even hurt to come to a stop and take a look,” he said.