That a forklift driver walked away with some arm and hip pain after his machinery was struck by a train last week becomes more unbelievable now that details of the incident have been released by the Wauwatosa Police Department.
According to the accident report:
The 54-year-old driver working for Kinateder Masonry was heading northbound on 70th Street toward State Street. When he saw a stoplight, he pulled the forklift forward and stopped on the railroad tracks just after 10 a.m. April 18. The forklift was carrying nearly 4,500 pounds of stone for the 70th Street bridge reconstruction.
Witnesses said the train sounded its horn continuously from 68th to 70th streets to try to clear the tracks.
The driver said he panicked when he heard the train horn and warning signals and saw the crossing gates come down behind him. He didn't want to back up into the gate so he made a U-turn and was able to turn far enough that the back tire of the forklift took most of the impact.
The forklift spun sideways and struck a utility poll. Two wheels were torn off machine, and they struck railroad signal equipment causing about $150,000 in damage.
The Canadian-Pacific railroad engineer tried to use the emergency braking system but wasn't able to stop the locomotive in time to avoid a collision. The engine was towing 12 freight cars - a load of about 1,293 tons coming at the forklift.
The forklift driver was cited for failing to obey a sign directing people to stay off the tracks. He declined an ambulance after the crash.
Photos from the incident.