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Officials investigating car-train accident; pair avoids injury

| April 20, 2012 7:19 PM

Law-enforcement officals are awaiting toxicology reports after a vehicle was struck nearly head-on by a Burlington Northern Santa Fe train recently.

Montana Highway Patrol and Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department officers took Joshua Vanzile, 23, of Libby in for processing after the 1991 Jeep Cherokee he was driving became stuck near the BNSF tracks near mile-marker No. 8 Jennings Haul Road at 3 a.m. last Wednesday, April 4.

According to investigating MHP Sgt. Duane Bowers, Vanzile attempted to drive the vehicle between a steep rock embankment and the rails.  Shortly after he and his passenger, Georgia R. Sam, 25, also of Libby, got out of the vehicle to assess the situation. About that time, a northbound BNSF train came around the curve and struck the vehicle nearly head-on.

The vehicle was pushed backward into the rock embankment where it came to rest.  Both subjects were clear of the vehicle at the time of collision and neither was injured.

The estimated train speed at the time of the collision was 30 mph.  

The engineer stopped the train immediately and rail service was disrupted for several hours. 

Vanzile was arrested at the scene and transported to Lincoln County Jail for processing.

Alcohol and/or drug use is suspected and several charges against Vanzile are pending.