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Bonnie Lahosky’s Kia Sportage is smashed beyond recognition after being hit by a freight train Monday.

BONNIE LAHOSKY PHOTO

Bonnie Lahosky’s Kia Sportage is smashed beyond recognition after being hit by a freight train Monday.

A Beausejour-area woman told on Monday how she bailed out of her SUV just before a freight train smashed into it, crumpling the rear of her vehicle.

Bonnie Lahosky almost made it across the CP main line on St. Ouens Road near Beausejour on her way to work early Monday morning -- almost, but for the ice and a huge snowdrift.

And the lights of a freight train coming. And coming. And coming.

"If something happens where you have to make a fast judgment, the vehicle is not worth it," Lahosky said from her home south of Beausejour, in a community still known locally as Lydiatt, though the village with that name is gone.

"I only work two miles from home. I milk dairy cows," said Lahosky. "As soon as you pull out from the driveway, you're 300 metres from the tracks."

Lahosky knew a freight train goes through between 5:45 a.m. and 5:50 a.m. most days, so she gave herself a little extra time.

"There's a stop sign at the track. I did see the lights in the distance -- I thought it was four miles away.

"I have a four-by-four but there was a snowdrift. There were sheets of ice, and they stopped me," said Lahosky. Lahosky's vehicle actually cleared the track, but not far enough to be out of the reach of the front of the locomotive. Unable to move the SUV, and seeing the train getting closer, Lahosky abandoned the vehicle to its fate and ran back to her house for help.

"I didn't hear anything. I thought the train had missed it -- I didn't hear a bang or a crunch."

When she saw the train stop, "I just knew."

The locomotive's 'cowcatcher' caught her Kia Sportage's rear bumper, spun the vehicle, and hit it again. "The spare tire on the back was pushed into the middle, and the back seat was pushed into the front. If I'd had kids in the back seat, they would have been history," said Lahosky.

Lahosky's husband carried back -- yes, carried, not towed -- what was left of the SUV with a loader from their farm.

"It's amazing how many trains go through here," said Lahosky, who spent much of Monday "second-guessing myself in making better judgments."

With three kids aged 12 to 18 in the house, Lahosky wants drivers' education courses to teach drivers how to handle themselves if they get stuck on train crossings.

She'd thought she could get across the track, but lost traction at the stop sign, and then the combination of ice and the snowdrift stopped her SUV cold. "I got hung up somewhere," she said.

"I look at the car, and I'm speechless."

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca