The town of Alta was stunned after a tractor pulling grain wagons drove into the path of a westbound Canadian National locomotive Saturday afternoon, instantly killing a Wyoming woman and causing fatal injuries to her one-year-old daughter.
A garage sale was going on Saturday, in a shed just yards from the tracks.
Just after 1 p.m., the Alta Police Department responded to the accident on West Highway Street in Alta. Once on the scene, it was determined that Nate Frank, 21 of Schaller had been driving the John Deere tractor and was heading southbound on West Highway.
Frank's fiancée Danielle Oxley, 20, of Laramie, WY. was also riding in the tractor with her one year old daughter Piper Christine. Danielle was pronounced dead at the scene by the Buena Vista County Medical Examiner's office. Piper was transported to the Buena Vista Regional Medical Center and transferred to Avera-McKenna Hospital in Sioux Falls, SD. Piper passed away from injuries on Sunday, October 19. Frank was transported to BVRMC and was then transported to Mercy Hospital in Sioux City. According to Alta Police Chief Mike McDonald, as of Monday Frank remained in the hospital with unspecified injured.
McDonald said it appeared the accident was a result of lack of attention. He said according to witnesses, the warning devices by the tracks were operating properly. "Really we'll never know what was going on in the tractor cab at the time," he said.
Some traffic congestion occurred while the accident was being investigated as the parked train blocked some of the intersections leading into and out of Alta.
The Alta Police Department was assisted by the Iowa State Patrol, Alta Fire and Rescue, the Buena Vista County Sheriff's Office, the Storm Lake Police Department, the Buena Vista County Medical Examiner's Office and representatives from the Canadian National Railroad.
An Accident Reconstructionist with the Iowa State Patrol was also on the scene to assist with the accident investigation. Law enforcement officials and railroad officials were on the scene until about 6 p.m.
A debriefing was offered Monday evening for rescue and law enforcement personnel that had been involved in the response.