November 11 2019
LONGVIEW, Washington - Three employees of Burlington Northern Santa Fe were killed when a freight train struck their shuttle van on Wednesday. A fourth men was injured.
"They had just completed their shift when their van was struck at a private rail crossing in the Longview area," said Burlington representative Gus Melonas. "They were taking the crew to the hotel in Vancouver."
The van driver and two crewmembers were killed. A fourth man is listed in critical condition at a Portland hospital.
The youngest of the rail workers who died was Christopher Loehr, 28, who graduated from Skyview High School in Vancouver. Friends say Loehr took a lot of pride in physical fitness. A relative, Cindy Ohm, said he served two army tours in Iraq with the 7th Calvary.
"A train versus a van is like a car to a pop can. It's just a terrible situation," Melonas said. "We feel so deeply for everybody involved. It's the saddest day you can imagine. It's terrible on all of us."
The fully loaded train, which did not derail, was traveling from Crookston, Minnesota to Seattle.
Photo 1: Train hits van. Photo from KOMO news.