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Driver Killed After Striking Amtrak Train

May 8, 1991

OTTUMWA, Iowa (AP) _ A driver was killed Wednesday after he backed into the path of an Amtrak passenger train while trying to avoid a freight train on another set of tracks, train crews said.

None of the 398 passengers or crew members was hurt in the collision at a crossing on a private gravel road 3 miles west of Ottumwa in south-central Iowa, said Larry Piper, conductor on Amtrak’s passenger train, the California Zephyr.

He said the train was traveling at 79 mph when the late morning accident occurred.

The eastbound passenger train and the westbound Burlington Northern freight train remained on the tracks, and no serious damage was reported.

Both trains’ engineers said the driver of the Chevrolet Blazer would have been in the clear had he kept driving through the crossing.

K.C. Hill, who was at the controls of the freight train, said he saw dust from the vehicle, which already had crossed the tracks. ″He was in the clear. He heard a whistle and looked and saw my headlight and backed up right in front of Amtrak,″ Hill said.

The crumbled vehicle was pushed onto the Burlington Northern track and came to rest after about 25 feet.

Wapello County sheriff’s deputies said the body was thrown an additional 55 feet into a ditch. The sheriff’s department identified the victim as William Gary Bain Jr., 21, of rural Ottumwa.

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