SPOKANE, Wash. – Two Kootenai County teens remained in the hospital Thursday night after a car they were in was struck by a train earlier that afternoon.
It happened at the intersection where Huetter crosses the train tracks near Rathdrum and it is a familiar intersection to law enforcement. In fact, deputies were patrolling that area on Wednesday looking for drivers running the stop sign. It was part of an effort to stop train versus car collisions.
A silver Chevy collided with a train on Thursday and Kootenai County deputies were called to the scene just after 3 p.m.
“Our deputies got here within minutes of the call and they did discover that a vehicle appeared to be struck by a train,” Kootenai County Sheriff’s Spokesperson, Dennis Stinebaugh said.
Deputies found two teens in the SUV, 18-year-old Austin Wiseman and a 15-year-old girl, whose name has not been released. Both teens were rushed to Kootenai Health where Wiseman is in critical condition and the girl is in serious condition.
Officials estimate the train's speed at 45 mph.
As investigators collected evidence and did interviews, they could not help but think of what they were doing just the day before, at this very intersection.
“Just yesterday deputies from the sheriff’s office were here and stopped roughly 25 vehicles for driving through this very stop sign,” Stinebaugh said.
It is part of an effort on behalf of local law enforcement called Operation Lifesaver. Law enforcement is reminding people of the dangers of crossing railroad tracks. This particular intersection does not have a gate or flashing light, just a stop sign and railroad crossing sign.
Investigators are still trying to determine what happened in this particular case, as well as continuing to remind drivers to be safe and cautious at those types of intersections.
Deputies are still working to make proper notifications prior to releasing the name of the girl.
The sheriff's office will provide medical updates as they become available for release.