RATHDRUM - The bizarre train-vehicle collision that killed a 33-year-old Rathdrum man on Sunday in Rathdrum has investigators searching for answers.
Henry John Parent Jr. was driving his 1992 GMC Jimmy westbound on a service road along the BNSF Railway tracks just east of the Highway 41-Highway 53 interchange at 8:20 a.m. when he drove over the tracks in front of the westbound train.
"There isn't a crossing within a mile (of where the collision happened)," said Rathdrum Police Chief Kevin Fuhr. "We really don't know what he was doing other than crossing the tracks at that location."
Fuhr said there was no evidence at the scene to suggest that alcohol or drugs were a factor. He said investigators also don't have a possible reason as to why Parent turned when he did.
"Train personnel had seen the vehicle crossing the tracks and had activated their horn," a Rathdrum Police press release states. "Parent's vehicle continued across the tracks and was struck in the passenger side by the train."
Parent, the lone occupant, was ejected from the vehicle and flown to Kootenai Medical Center via MedStar helicopter with internal injuries. He died at KMC Sunday night.
The Jimmy rolled over and was on its top.
Fuhr said a male friend was in another vehicle following Parent. The two were on their way to a friend's house and crossing the tracks in that area was not necessary to get there.
"It's odd that he tried to cross where he did," said Fuhr, adding that Parent's friend is also puzzled over the move. "There's no indication that shows he tried to move out of the way of the train. I don't know if he tried to beat it as much as the train simply came from behind him."
Fuhr said the speed limit for trains in that area is 55 mph, but he didn't know how fast the train was traveling.
Since the accident occurred on BNSF's property, Parent's friend who was following him may face trespassing charges.
An investigation continues. Police are awaiting toxicology reports to determine if intoxicants were a factor.