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Freight train smashes into minivan; 4 die

A freight train smashed into a minivan Sunday, killing all four people in the vehicle, authorities said.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A freight train smashed into a minivan Sunday at a crossing that lacked lights or gates, killing all four people in the vehicle, authorities said.

The minivan’s driver was apparently trying to cut through a highway construction area to get to Columbus when the vehicle was hit by the train and pushed about a mile down the tracks, authorities said. The train was traveling about 60 mph.

The four victims — two women and two men — were believed to be from southeastern Wisconsin, police said. Their identities were not immediately released.

The 39-car Canadian Pacific Railway freight train was traveling from Chicago to St. Paul, Minn., with consumer goods on board when the accident occurred, CPR spokeswoman Laura Baenen said. Two crew members were not injured, she said.

The rail crossing had only a sign marking it, but no lights or gates, said Federal Railroad Administration spokesman Steve Kulm.

According to the engineer, the minivan driver appeared to look down the tracks before the accident, then turn away as if talking to someone else in the vehicle, said Rodney Kreunen, state railroad commissioner.

Kreunen said he believes the driver went past road closure signs on a highway then turned down a dead-end street trying to get around the construction.

The crash remained under investigation.