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Driver of pickup that collided with train taken off life support

A 55-year-old man whose pickup collided with a BNSF Railway train earlier this month in Washougal has been taken off life support, according to his family.

The man, identified as Gary Schafte of Washougal, was taken in critical condition to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver following the crash, the Camas Police Department confirmed.

After 10 days in the hospital, it was determined that Schafte was brain-dead, and his family collectively decided to take him off life support Monday night, wife Rhonda Nelson-Schafte said in an email.

Schafte worked at Columbia Cascade Timberform for more than three decades as a forklift driver. He is survived by his wife and two children, Lacey Bieker and Ryan Schafte.

The Camas-Washougal Fire Department was dispatched at 6:23 a.m. July 15 for a report of a crash involving a train on the tracks at Third Street, north of C Street. Police officers also responded.

“Arriving units discovered a small truck was traveling southbound on Southeast Whitney Street (Third Street) when it collided with a westbound (BNSF Railway) train,” the Camas Police Department said in a news release.

BNSF Railway spokesman Gus Melonas said the driver struck the side of the train. Police said they were investigating the cause of the crash and noted that all of the implemented safety equipment near the tracks appeared to be functioning at the time.

Nelson-Schafte said her children were able to meet with the train’s engineer, who told them Schafte appeared distracted and struck the second car on the train. The engineer provided CPR until emergency responders arrived, according to the family.


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