MANKATO — A lawsuit has been settled between the family of a Blue Earth County employee killed in a 2009 train crash and Union Pacific Railroad.
The railroad company has agreed to pay $650,000 to the family of Todd Ziegler, who was 43 years old when a county dump truck he was in was struck by a three Union Pacific locomotives near Lake Crystal on July 13, 2009. The driver of the truck, 42-year-old Jack Baker of Le Center, also was killed in the collision.
Ziegler's family was represented by Scott Kelly of Farrish Johnson Law Office and Bob Pottroff, a Kansas attorney who specializes in train crash litigation. The attorneys said the railroad industry has known for years that train whistles and warnings are inadequate and have failed to take corrective action.
Ziegler and Baker were spraying road ditches when they were struck by the locomotives, which weren't pulling any rail cars, at the intersection of Blue Earth County Road 112. There are three railroad crossings in Lake Crystal and that intersection is the only one that doesn't have lights or cross arms, Kelly and Pottroff said in a news release.
"A railroad engineer for Union Pacific Railroad acknowledged there had been many close calls at the intersection before this accident," the release said. "The evidence indicates neither Ziegler nor his co-worker heard the whistle from the train, prior to the impact, over the noise of the dump truck."