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Bicyclist killed in Tuesday’s collision with Amtrak train identified

F Street closed after bicyclist hit and killed by Amtrak train

A male bicyclist was killed after colliding with an Amtrak passenger train at the F Street crossing in Bellingham, Wash., on Tuesday, March 26, 2019.
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A male bicyclist was killed after colliding with an Amtrak passenger train at the F Street crossing in Bellingham, Wash., on Tuesday, March 26, 2019.

The male bicyclist who was hit and killed Tuesday morning by an Amtrak Cascades passenger train on F Street between Roeder Avenue and Holly Street has been identified as 71-year-old Richard T. Lonseth, according to Dr. Gary Goldfogel, Whatcom County’s medical examiner.

Lonseth, who Bellingham Police say lived in Ferndale, died from trauma caused by the collision with the train, Goldfogel told The Bellingham Herald. Goldfogel also ruled Lonseth’s death as accidental.

Minutes before 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Bellingham Fire and Police responded to F Street for the report of a train and bicyclist collision.

Amtrak Cascades passenger train 517 was traveling from Vancouver, B.C., and was due to cross the intersection on its way to Portland, according to police and an Amtrak spokesperson.

Bellingham Police Lt. Claudia Murphy said Lonseth ignored the locomotive’s horn, flashing lights and a pair of swing arms at the crossing and nearby construction flaggers, as he rode his bicycle from Roeder Avenue. He continued onto the tracks and was hit by the oncoming train.

Lonseth was pronounced dead at the scene, Murphy said.

His death is the fifth fatal train collision on BNSF tracks in Washington state this year, according to Gus Melonas, a BNSF spokesperson. The collision occurred on BNSF’s main rail line, Melonas said.

Safety improvements were planned at the F Street crossing near the waterfront before Lonseth was hit. Next year it will be changed to improve safety in a $730,000 project that will add a “quad gate” replacing the current swing arms, according to Amy Cloud, a spokesperson for the Bellingham Public Works Department.

Around 20 trains pass through Bellingham every day, and the city has 11 public crossings. About 4,600 vehicles drive over the F Street crossing per day.

The Bellingham Police Department and BNSF said the investigation into Lonseth’s death is continuing.

Safety improvements were planned at the F Street railroad crossing near the Bellingham waterfront even before a bicyclist was killed there Tuesday, March 26, 2019.

Reporter Denver Pratt joined The Bellingham Herald in 2017 and covers courts and criminal and social justice. She has worked in Montana, Florida and Virginia.
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