A relatively rare type of accident took place near Oxford Mills on Sunday, January 22. Around 7:30 pm, a Canadian Pacific freight train collided with a minivan at the County Road 18 crossing, near Dennison Road. The Ontario Provincial Police and other first responders were on scene, and thankfully no injuries were reported.
A spokesperson for the OPP confirmed that the vehicle had become stuck on the tracks at the crossing, and that the three occupants of the van had managed to escape the vehicle before it was hit by the train. A photo of the damages posted by the OPP on Twitter showed the rear end of the van smashed significantly.
The train was left blocking two miles of track after an emergency stop, and the scene took several hours to clean up. Officers were posted at affected crossings to help direct traffic and ensure safety. There were no reports of crossing signal malfunction.
Railway crossing safety has been a topic of discussion locally in recent months. During the October municipal election, candidate Mitch Bloom suggested that “quiet neighborhoods” could be achieved by designating some local crossings as “no train whistle” crossings if enough locals wanted this. The railway crossing at County Road 18 poses a specific danger in that the tracks cross the road at an angle. New level crossings are not supposed to be constructed like this since it restricts visibility and creates a greater risk of a vehicle accidentally turning off onto the tracks. This is a situation that could have ended much worse. Thankfully tragedy did not strike.