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Woman killed by train in Athalmer

A Invermere woman was killed as a result of being struck by a train while trying to cross the tracks.

Kristian Rasmussen/Columbia Valley Pioneer

A 50-year-old Invermere woman was killed as a result of being struck by a train while trying to cross the tracks with a friend near 4th Avenue and Borden Street in Athalmer just before 6:50 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 20.

The victim was heading from one friend’s home to another home when she tried to cross the tracks in front of an approaching train, which was estimated to be travelling at close to 60 kilometres per hour. That speed limit is enforced by CPR for trains travelling through residential areas, said Cpl. Grant Simpson of the Columbia Valley RCMP.

“The victim was just clipped,” he added. “It appeared as though she thought she had enough room to allow the train to go by, but a portion of the locomotive actually just clipped her.”

The Invermere woman’s companion, who tripped before she was able to cross the tracks, did not witness the death of her friend. After the impact, the locomotive came to a stop.

“She had fallen and was kind of face down and didn’t see what happened and couldn’t find her friend,” Cpl. Simpson explained. “The girl who was with the victim ran up to the locomotive and asked, “Did you hit somebody?” because she couldn’t find her friend.”

Members of the Columbia Valley detachment, CPR police and Invermere Fire Rescue attended the scene, but did not begin emergency resuscitation procedures because it was clear that the victim had succumbed to her injuries.

The victim has adult children and a large extended family in the area, Cpl. Simpson said.

“I can imagine the impact [on the community] is going to be fairly significant,” he said. “Hopefully, we can take something from this and treat it as a learning experience and hopefully the public will realize the dangers involved with trying to cross the tracks.”

The Columbia Valley detachment, CPR police and the BC Coroners Service are currently investigating the accident. Alcohol was believed to be a factor.

The last train-related death in the area was in June 2010 and it claimed the life of respected Invermere doctor Johnson Albert Rose, who was tragically killed while trying to cross over a coupled train stopped near 4th Avenue and Laurier Street in Invermere. The train suddenly lurched forward, knocking Dr. Rose underneath.

“The community must realize the dangers involved in trying to cross any railway track; whether you can see a train or not, there are other inherent dangers as well,” Cpl. Simpson warned.