Train-truck collision kills Athol man

Print Article

LOREN BENOIT/Press A flagger stops traffic as a BNSF train makes its way north through Athol on Friday as workers repair crossing arms. A 34-year-old Athol man was killed early Friday morning at the crossing when an Amtrak train collided with his pickup truck.


Staff Writer

ATHOL — A 34-year-old Athol man was killed early Friday when an Amtrak train collided with a pickup truck that had stopped on the railroad tracks in Athol.

Police said Robert Miller was stopped at the railroad crossing shortly after midnight when a southbound Amtrak train crashed into his 2008 Ford.

Miller, who was alone in the maroon truck, died at the scene. No one on the train was injured.

It is unknown if Miller was having car troubles or inadvertently stopped on the track before the train arrived.

Workers and investigators from Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad, which owns the tracks, were on scene Friday to repair the signal and crossing arms.

Gus Melonas of BNSF public affairs said investigators from the company’s police department will work with Idaho State Police, Amtrak police and county officers on the investigation.

According to police, the westbound Amtrak train, called the Empire Builder, was carrying 234 passengers when it traveled on its daily run through Athol at 12:35 a.m. It collided with the Ford F250 pickup that was pointed west and stopped on the railroad crossing.

“There were no injuries among the passengers,” Amtrak spokesman Marc Maglieri said. “We had a two-and-a-half-hour delay and then we continued on.”

Railroads account for about 2,000 deaths annually, Maglieri said.

His company and its police force conduct an annual campaign to educate people about rail safety, he said.

Every three hours a train — usually a freight train — is delayed after making contact with a person or vehicle on the tracks, Maglieri said. A train traveling 55 mph can take approximately one mile to stop. It takes about 20 seconds for a train to cross once the lights start flashing, he said.

Apparent suicides make up about half of total pedestrian deaths, he said.

Idaho State Police Capt. John Kempf said that until the investigation is complete, his department will reserve comment.

Miller was a lifelong resident of Athol.

Kootenai County has led the state in vehicle-train collisions in recent years.

According to the Federal Railroad Administration, there were 29 total such accidents in Kootenai County from 2007 to 2017.

Print Article

Read More Local News

WWII Navy ace soaring at 100

October 15, 2019 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press “Working with such luminaries as Hyman Rickover and Elmo Zumwalt was not for the faint-hearted — and even Whitey did not come away unscathed,” biographer Peter Mersky wrote in his book, “Whitey.” “Y...


Read More

The Teacher Fund chooses Ponderosa Elementary as initial beneficiary

October 15, 2019 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press POST FALLS — It's easy for teachers to forget about themselves when they’re given opportunities to improve their classrooms. Ponderosa Elementary School second-grade teacher Danielle Power immediate...


Read More

Commissioners’ quest: Simplify county government

October 15, 2019 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press Kootenai County Commissioner Bill Brooks says government is too complicated. And on the local level, he wants to do something to clear it up. That’s why the first-term commissioner is spearheading a...


Read More

UGM donation will go a long way

October 15, 2019 at 5:00 am | Coeur d'Alene Press By KAYE THORNBRUGH Staff Writer A gift from a local woman will enable The Union Gospel Mission Center for Women and Children to help more residents achieve long-term success. Julie Wright recent...


Read More

Contact Us

(208) 664-8176
215 N. Second St
Coeur d'Alene, Idaho 83814

©2019 The Coeur d'Alene Press Terms of Use Privacy Policy