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BNSF warns public of rail yard dangers following discovery of body

Notifications of relatives of the person found dead along railroad tracks in the BNSF Railway yard in Grand Forks Saturday morning weren't complete yet Sunday, a police sergeant said.

Family members of the deceased person are not from this area, which makes the notification process take longer, the sergeant said.

Police had said early Saturday they expected to release more information later that day.

Little information has been released, including the identity, age or gender of the person whose body was found about 7:30 a.m. Saturday by BNSF employees in the rail yard west of the Columbia Road overpass, just south of the UND campus and north of DeMers Avenue.

Or how the person died.

Amy McBeth, a Twin Cities spokeswoman for BNSF, said it was not a railroad employee but said details about the person would be left up to police to report.

The yard and track area are private property, off-limits to the public and are signed "No Trespassing," at several points.

The signs in the yard include notice that engines and trains often are remotely operated, without an engineer on the engine as it moves through the yard.

McBeth reiterated Sunday, in an email to the Herald, that the yards are private property and dangerous for anyone other than employees.

"Our operations occur at the yard 24 hours a day," McBeth said. "Employees are switching cars and putting together trains, so there is railroad activity. It is not a location that would allow for people to gather. Anyone in the yard who is not authorized to be there, or anyone passing through the yard, would be trespassing, which we take very seriously. It is illegal and very dangerous to trespass on railroad property."

Amtrak passenger trains normally don't pass through the city and the BNSF yards along DeMers Avenue; rather, they stop, between Fargo and Devils Lake on the Empire Builder route, at the depot on the west side of the city.

There is a walkway on the west side of the two southbound lanes of Columbia Road on the overpass arching over several tracks, but it is entirely caged in with wire fence.

Police plan to release more information about the body today, the sergeant said.

Fort Worth, Texas-based BNSF is the railroad operating subsidiary of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corp., which itself is owned by Warren Buffet's Omaha holding company, Berkshire Hathaway.