MN: St. Paul Light-Rail Train Strikes Pedestrian

Aug. 26--A light-rail train struck a pedestrian Monday afternoon in St. Paul, leaving a man with a gash in his head and leg injuries, a witness said.

The injured male was taken to Regions Hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening, said Metro Transit spokesman Drew Kerr. Green Line service was diverted to buses in the area for about an hour, he said.

The accident involved a westbound train at University Avenue and Chatsworth Street just after 1 p.m., Kerr said.

"A preliminary investigation indicates the pedestrian was illegally walking in a non-designated-crosswalk area between the eastbound and westbound light-rail tracks," Kerr said.

Marcus Nisan takes the Green Line to work in Minneapolis every day and immediately knew something was wrong when he felt the train operator use the brakes Monday. "I braced myself," he said. "I thought we were going to hit a car."

The train stopped, and Nisan looked out the window and a saw a man face down on the ground.

"When we first saw him, we thought he was dead and then he started moving his head," Nisan said. He and others went to help the man, but didn't move him after they saw his injuries. The man had a 4-inch gash in the back of his head, one of his legs was bent backward andhis ankle on the other leg was bleeding, Nisan said.

The man kept saying, "I don't remember what happened. What happened? What happened?," Nisan said. Nisan, who is 23, said the injured man looked the same age.

People tried to comfort the injured man, telling him help was on the way. One man made a pillow of his shirt for the injured man's head.

Nisan took a picture of the accident scene with the hope that it will remind people of the need for caution.

"I hope the picture communicates the message of, 'You need to be fully aware whenever you're crossing the street, whether there's a train or not,' " he said.

The train involved stayed at the location, and passengers continued their trips by bus. Other would-be Green Line riders were told to use buses between the Capitol/Rice Street Station and Snelling Avenue Station until the area was cleared shortly after 2 p.m.

Rail service continued between downtown Minneapolis and Snelling Avenue Station, and between Capitol/Rice Street Station and downtown St. Paul.

Monday's case was the third pedestrian accident involving the Green Line, which opened June 14. The first two resulted in only minor injuries, Kerr said.

Green Line trains travel up to 35 mph; the speed the train was traveling when the accident happened will be determined, Kerr said. The train operator was put on paid administrative leave, which is standard, and underwent routine drug and alcohol testing.

Mara H. Gottfried can be reached at 651-228-5262. Follow her at twitter.com/MaraGottfried.

Copyright 2014 - Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.

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