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WDAY: The News Leader

Published October 15, 2012, 05:48 PM

Casselton train accident victim remembered by friends, community members

Casselton, ND (WDAY TV) – Three months ago, the train whistles were silenced in Casselton. Tonight, the community is mourning the death of a long-time resident.

By: Kay Cooley, WDAY Staff Reports, WDAY

Casselton, ND (WDAY TV) – Three months ago, the train whistles were silenced in Casselton. Tonight, the community is mourning the death of a long-time resident.

69-year-old Eugene Kaatz died Saturday afternoon while trying to cross the town's railroad tracks.

Eugene Kaatz was a longtime employee at Central Sales in town.

Kaatz spent his weekdays working just a block away from the railroad tracks where he was struck by a train on Saturday.

Jon Walsvik, Central Sales Co-Worker: "Well his favorite saying was he always said ‘I'm not doing very good’ and I guess all we can say now is we're not doing very good."

Jon Walsvik has spent the past 23 years working side by side with Eugene Kaatz, never thinking that last week would be the end.

Walsvik: "I just, knot in my stomach"

Kaatz died Saturday, caught between two head on trains and struck before he could escape.

The accident a shock to many in town. Kaatz walked everywhere he went, crossing the Langer Avenue tracks nearly every day.

Walsvik: "Just a likeable guy. Everybody liked him. "

Edward McConnell, Casselton Mayor: "Well it's a tragedy."

Depending of the time of week, 50 to 60 trains cross the tracks daily. An extremely dangerous spot the city has tried to improve, but a loud spot too, causing the city to ban train whistles three months ago. Instead, they put in double cross-arms, fences, and mazes to try to stop people from crossing.

McConnell: "They're supposed to be safer without the whistles than they were with them."

And Kaatz's tragedy proves sometimes even those warning signs aren't safe enough.

Walsvik: "It's just tough, see you later Gene-o."

Authorities are still investigating the accident.

They say a conductor did blow a whistle to warn him.

Friends at Central Sales say they're trying to plan a community event to remember him.

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