On April 22, at 9:45 a.m., the Stark County Sheriff's Office responded to a train crash near Hebron. Responding to the incident were representatives from multiple agencies, including the North Dakota Highway Patrol and Hebron Fire and Ambulance.
According to a release by the Highway Patrol, Mitch Erdle, 34, of Hebron, was traveling northbound on 80th Ave SW., from a nearby farm field enroute to his main farm on a gravel roadway in otherwise normal conditions.
Erdle, who was driving a 2006 CAT tractor, was pulling a drill, grain cart and two anhydrous ammonia tanks when he allegedly failed to stop for a marked railroad crossing. A BNSF train, pulling 110 loaded coal cars, was traveling eastbound from Glendive to Mandan when the train collided with Erdle's tractor.
"The rear anhydrous ammonia tank was struck by the eastbound train," Sgt. Christopher Messer, North Dakota Highway Patrol, said. "The tank disconnected from the trailer and was thrown into the northeast ditch along the railroad tracks."
According to Messer, Erdle and the two occupants of the train were not injured in the crash.
Charges have been brought against Erdle for failure to stop for a railroad crossing marked with a stop sign.
"First and foremost, when we arrive at a scene involving a train crash we are most concerned with ensuring the wellbeing of all parties involved. This means dispatching medical personnel and providing on-site first responder care to those who may have been injured," Dep. Ray Kaylor, chief deputy with Stark County Sheriff's Office, said. "Following those initial medical checks, we immediately notify the train company so that they can halt trains which may be coming down the track."
According to Kaylor, the environmental concerns are significant with farm and train accidents as both are typically in the process of transporting chemicals and may result in contamination of the area.
"We check for chemical spills from the train and the tractor, as in this case there was anhydrous ammonia tanks being transported," Kaylor said. "We then notify emergency management to come out to the site if there is a spill identified."
Messer said that the anhydrous ammonia tanks being transported by the tractor did not rupture, and that no hazardous materials were released in the crash. According to the Southwest Region Office of the North Dakota Highway Patrol, the crash remains under investigation by the department at this time.