Witness: Man's wheelchair got caught before getting killed by light-rail train

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Metro Transit police investigate an accident involving a light rail train and a man in a wheelchair.

A man in a wheelchair was killed after being struck by a light-rail train in south Minneapolis around 6 p.m. on Sunday.  The crossing is by several group homes with several people in wheel chairs -- and many of them say this has been a safety concern for quite some time.

The incident happened along the Blue Line near E. 32nd Street. The victim, identified as 61-year-old Daniel Wesse, was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center and died hours later from his injuries. His death was ruled an accident. 

Wesse lived in the Dungarvin Group Home near the train station. 

"He was crossing and then his wheel got caught. He wasn't tipping. He was leaning," friend Bill Pasco, who saw the incident happen, said. 

If crossing the light-rail tracks from one side, people in wheelchairs have two options: One is to navigate the snow and ice before crossing on the other side. And the other option is to move through the few feet between the crossing arm post and a drop off -- without their wheel going over the edge.

Justin Page, an attorney with the Minnesota Disability Law Center, believes the downtown crossings are often cleared better than the south Minneapolis one – “It was always a concern of mine especially after a snowfall event,” he said.

Metro Transit investigators were on scene Monday trying to determine if there are ways to make the crossing safer.

"If there are changes that need to be taken into place, absolutely we're going to do what we can to make those happen," Metro Transit spokesman Howie Padilla said.

Last month, the Met Council initiated a review of Metro Transit's safety procedures and equipment on light rail lines after 4 pedestrian accidents in just 5 days. Met Council chairman Adam Duininck also called for a review of communication and outreach efforts “to amplify the message that safety is a shared responsibility.”

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