A 44-year-old Redmond man struck by a Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight train south of Redmond early Tuesday morning has improved to fair condition Wednesday at a Bend hospital, officials said.
Deputies were dispatched to the tracks near Highway 97 and SW Quarry Avenue around 3:20 a.m. Tuesday on the reported accident, said sheriff’s Sgt. Ty Rupert.
Deputies were told by the train’s engineers they struck someone walking on the tracks, Rupert said.
The man, later identified as Walter James Lewis, was found along the side of the tracks, having suffered a serious head injury.
Deputies and Redmond Fire medics stabilized Lewis at the scene and he was flown to St. Charles-Bend, where a nursing supervisor said he was in serious condition late Tuesday night. Spokeswoman Lisa Goodman said he was in fair condition Wednesday afternoon.
Rupert said it’s believed Lewis was intoxicated, and alcohol was a contributing factor to the incident. Based on the investigation, no crime is believed to have occurred, he added.
BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas said the crew of the northbound train reported blowing the train’s whistle and tried to apply the emergency brake when they saw the man standing near the tracks.
Melonas said the train consisted of six locomotives, 14 loads of general freight and 13 empty cars, and was going below the 50 mph maximum speed for the area.
The collision delayed the train for about five hours, also delaying two other trains on the line, he added.