An enclosed cargo trailer became unhitched from a motor home at a railroad crossing south of Sunriver on Monday afternoon – and before the owner or authorities could remove it, a freight train slammed into the trailer, causing no injuries but a lengthy road closure, authorities said.
Deschutes County sheriff’s deputies were dispatched around 2:45 p.m. to a reported hazard at the railroad crossing at Vandevert Road, just west of Highway 97, said Sgt. Joe DeLuca.
The first deputy to arrive found the train blocking the road, a motor home stopped east of the tracks and a 20-foot cargo trailer off the roadway, west of the tracks, DeLuca said.
An investigation determined Gerald Stranak, 56, of Bend, was crossing the railroad tracks at the wheel of a 2002 Monarch motor home towing the trailer when it became unhitched and came to rest in the crossing, DeLuca said.
Stranak called sheriff’s dispatchers, who tried to contact BNSF personnel to stop train traffic in the area, the sergeant said. While Stranak was trying to hitch the trailer back up to his motor home, a northbound train struck the trailer, knocking it off the tracks.
ODOT and county public works crews responded to the scene, along with Sunriver police and the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad.
The Vandevert Road railroad crossing was blocked for about four hours while the crash was investigated and railroad personnel inspected the train for any damage, to ensure it was safe to continue on, DeLuca said.
The trailer was towed from the scene due to extensive damage, but the motor home was not damaged and no injuries were reported, the sergeant said.
Until the road reopened, detours were established, directing local traffic onto other roads. From the north, drivers were asked to get off at South Century Drive, toward Sunriver, and from the south to use State Rec Road.