By ROBERT S. MERRILL
A northbound Union Pacific train derailed west of Preston at approximately 10 a.m. Wednesday morning and a fatality occurred, according to Idaho State Police who is investigating the accident.
The driver of the dump truck has been identified as Heber Lewis, 56, of Preston. The crossing is equipped with flashing red lights that were functioning properly at the time of the accident. Next of kin has been notified.
According to an ISP press release, a Franklin County dump truck was headed eastbound on State Highway 36. There was thick fog in the area. The dump truck struck the side of the train that was already in the railroad crossing near milepost 127. Multiple cars at the rear of the train were derailed and the tracks were damaged in the crash, according to the release.
Lewis succumbed to his injuries at the scene.
Local law enforcement officials have closed State Highway 36 in both directions at the railroad crossing at approximately 4025 West Side Highway 36.
Eyewitnesses living adjacent to the railroad tracks said the train was traveling northbound and conditions were foggy at the time of the accident.
“We heard the train sound it’s horn as it approached the crossing and a few seconds later heard a terrible grinding, crunching sound,” said Nicole and Chris Merrill, collectively. “We immediately knew something terrible had happened. We called 911 to report the accident to the Franklin County Sheriff’s dispatcher.”
Sheriff’s deputies, Franklin County Fire officials, ambulance personnel and Idaho State Police were on scene shortly after. More information will be posted as soon as it becomes available.
Go to The Citizen’s Web page for video of the derailment. Information will be updated as it becomes available.
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