Couple survives being catapulted by Whitman Co. train



Posted on August 20, 2014 at 6:10 PM

Updated Thursday, Aug 21 at 1:24 PM

WHITMAN COUNTY, Wash.  --  Three people from Colfax are grateful to be alive after their car collided with a train on August 17th. On Tuesday, they told KREM 2 News what it was like to be catapulted off of the tracks.

Caleb Bravard, 23, and his girlfriend McKayla Bickelhaupt surveyed the damage on Tuesday. and still cannot believe they survived.

It happened at a usually quiet intersection on Bravard's private driveway outside of Colfax.

Bravard had been up and down the driveway almost every day for the last 15 years.

He knew everything about the trains that rolled through his area, but on August 17th, the train was an hour early.
"I didn't even hear it come," Bravard told KREM 2 News. "We didn't have the radio up or anything. Mckayla yells, 'train!' and I looked over and it was 10 feet away."

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Bravard only had time to slam on the brakes. He, Bickelhaupt and another passenger in the backseat were thrown into the air.

The train catapulted their car across the tracks and into a ditch. The three suffered just minor injuries.

They are now calling for changes at that intersection to make it safer for everyone.  They told KREM 2 News that tall grass prevented them from seeing the train.
Beyond their minimal physical impact, Bravard and Bickelhaupt said they are forever changed.

"You don't know when the last day is. You don't know when the last moment is. And it's opened my eyes more than they've ever been opened before. God was really looking out for us that day," Bravard said.
There are clear signs near that train crossing that says it is public property.

KREM 2 News reached out to the Corps of Engineers to see exactly who is responsible for maintaining the intersection and that tall grass. They did not reach us by Tuesday at 5:00 p.m.