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UPDATE: Duluth man in hospital following car vs train crash on North Shore

LAKEWOOD TOWNSHIP, MN– UPDATE: A man is in the hospital after a train crashed into his car in Lakewood Township.

Ken Buehler, General Manager North Shore Scenic Railroad says the crash happened around 7 p.m. at McQuade Road and Old North Shore Road near French River, about halfway between Duluth and Two Harbors.

According to the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office, Kurt Vanhala, 67, of Duluth was driving the car when he failed to yield at the stop sign and was hit by the train on the driver side.

Buehler says the train was heading north at 29 miles-per-hour when it slammed into a car crossing the tracks.

The vehicle was pushed 30 to 40 feet off the tracks into a ditch. The train continued on for nearly 400 feet before it could come to a stop.

First responders extricated Vanhala from the car. He was taken to a local hospital with substantial but non-life threatening injuries.

According to Buehler, the engineer of the train had plenty of visibility to see the car. He says the engineer blew the warning whistle and when they realized the car was not going to stop they activated the emergency braking system.

There was a total of 115 passengers on board. No passenger, staff, or crew were hurt.

The Sheriff’s office says alcohol is believed to be a factor in the crash.

Buehler says it’s important to always treat train tracks as if a train is coming. Stop and look both ways before crossing the tracks.

He says crews practice and train for situations such as these.

The train suffered only minor damage, while the passenger car is a total loss.


ST. LOUIS CO., MN– First responders are on the scene of what witnesses call a car vs train crash.

Crews are assisting at the scene near McQuade Road and Old North Shore Road near French River about halfway between Duluth and Two Harbors.

A witness on board the North Shore Pizza and Music train tells us he was playing music and heard the crash.

We have a photographer on-site.

No details are being made available right now, but as you can see a car is heavily damaged.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.


Jessie Slater

Evening Anchor and Reporter

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