A 19-year-old girl from rural Isanti was air lifted to HCMC in critical condition after she was struck by a train while walking near the tracks.
According to the Isanti County Sheriff's Office, dispatchers received a call about a person who was struck by a northbound BNSF train between South Passage and north of 273rd Avenue NE at 3:35 p.m. on Wednesday.
Responders found Elena Bayerl lying conscious and alert on the west side of the tracks. She was accompanied by two friends who had been walking in the area with her prior to the crash.
Investigators say Bayerl was walking north along the west side of the tracks and outside of the rails when the crash occurred, along with the other two pedestrians.
The two men told officers they noticed the train and tried to call out to Bayerl, but they said she did not appear to hear them or the train whistle because she was wearing ear buds and listening to music. They also said they tried to run up and pull her from the train's path, but could not reach her in time.
After the crash, the train came to a stop and the crew cooperated with investigators to confirm the horn and brakes had worked appropriately.
As of 8 a.m. on Thursday, Bayerl remained hospitalized in critical but stable condition.
Sarah Zarbok told she hears a train rumble behind her backyard half a dozen times a day, so she's well aware of the danger the tracks could pose to her two daughters and the family dog.
"You see ambulances and cop cars flying down the road," she recalled. "It's dangerous. You hear about accidents happening on the tracks all the time. It's easily avoided."
Zarbok told FOX 9 News she hopes others will learn from what happened to Bayerl and keep away from the tracks.
"I feel really, really bad for that family. Now, they have this horrific thing they have to deal with," she said. "I can't imagine. Makes me want to cry about the whole thing. It's a sad thing."