Families Send $24 Million Message To Railroad

Star Tribune, by Rochelle Olson and Lora PabstJune 14, 2008

Star Tribune, by Rochelle Olson and Lora Pabst

The families of four young adults killed in a horrific train-car accident nearly five years ago were awarded $24 million by an Anoka County District Court jury that rejected earlier suggestions the victims had tried to beat a train to the crossing.

Rail officials contend the victims' car drove around the crossing gates, but in their suit the families argued that the gates were not working properly when a westbound train traveling at 60 miles per hour hit the car at 10 p.m. on Sept. 26, 2003.

In its ruling, the jury determined Burlington Northern Santa Fe was 90 percent responsible for the crash and the driver was 10 percent responsible, said Bill Bongard, who represented the Rhoades family of Blaine.

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