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WDAY: The News Leader

Published March 28, 2012, 10:22 PM

Witness recounts scene of downtown train-pedestrian accident

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Amazingly a Fargo man escapes death after walking around a railroad crossing arm, then getting hit by a train. Sixty-one year old Dan Hassel is at Sanford, with injuries to his head and upper body. His condition is not being released at this time.

By: Travis Skonseng, WDAY

Amazingly a Fargo man escapes death after walking around a railroad crossing arm, then getting hit by a train. Sixty-one year old Dan Hassel is at Sanford, with injuries to his head and upper body. His condition is not being released at this time.

Police are still looking into this near fatal crash. We do know that it could have all been avoided had the victim not walked around these cross arms.

Karen Schulz – Eyewitnes: “Never ever, seen anything like that in my life. It was horrifying. Horrifying.”

For Karen Schulz, the sheer shock of witnessing a railroad crash is devastating. She saw it happen, just feet from her window.

Karen Schulz: “All of a sudden the train came. I heard the train coming and he walked right out in front of the train and I saw his body fly and he landed in the rocks.”

Schulz's antique store is next to the train tracks along Main Avenue. She jumped to the rescue to help the pedestrian.

Karen Schulz: “Called 911 and people were standing out there not doing anything and I put my sweater on him. The conductor comes down and he threw his jacket on him and everybody said stay away from him.”

Sgt Kevin Pallas – Fargo Police Department: “He was in and out of consciousness so of course we're going to be hopeful that the injuries are non-life threatening. Right now, we're not 100 percent on that.”

Fargo police rushed to the scene within seconds, blocking off Broadway. BNSF crews inspected the scene, tracks, and train.

Amy McBeth - BNSF Spokeswoman: “All of the gates and lights were working properly. The gate arms were in the down position as they should be.”

The preliminary investigation shows 61 year-old Dan Hassel went around a crossing arm after a westbound train passed. He was then hit by an eastbound train going 20 miles per hour.

Sgt Kevin Pallas: “It did not run over him. It kind of struck him and he fell to the side of the train.”

The ordeal is overwhelming. Schulz still can't understand how this happened, but is thankful she helped possibly save a life.

Karen Schulz: “Thank goodness. Thank goodness because he was breathing when he left in the ambulance.”

Police are not sure if alcohol played a role. This is the third train incident in the area within the last 10 days. The others were deadly.

The victim in that train incident has an extensive criminal history with police in the metro. Most are minor or alcohol related offenses.

Fargo police say Dan Hassel was a suspect in a 2006 burglary. He was also a victim in a serious crime in October 2005. In that case, Hassel was stabbed at Memorial Park in Moorhead and taken to then, Meritcare.

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