Parents sue BNSF, UND fraternity in son’s death

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GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) - The parents of a University of North Dakota student who died as a result of an accident in a rail yard two years ago in eastern North Dakota have sued a railroad company and a fraternity.

The parents of Blake Ayling argue that the actions of BNSF Railway and the chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha at UND contributed to their son’s death, TV station WDAY-TV (http://bit.ly/1if85KQ ) reported.

Ayling was found dead the morning of March 24, 2012, at the yard in Grand Forks. Authorities have said he died of blood loss after his right arm got tangled in a train and was torn off. His death was ruled an accident. Autopsy results showed that the Minneapolis man was legally drunk at the time of the incident. One of Ayling’s roommates told investigators that Ayling, 20, routinely walked through the rail yard as a shortcut from their apartment to campus.

Corey and Robin Ayling argue in the lawsuit that BNSF knew people crossed through the rail yard, but made little efforts to warn them of unseen dangers. They say the yard does not have gates or fences that could deter people from crossing. They say there was no warning sign near the point it is believed their son crossed through the rail yard.

BNSF spokeswoman Amy McBeth said the company is reviewing the lawsuit and will “respond through the legal process.”

The lawsuit also mentions the fraternity Pi Kappa Alpha as defendants in the case. The parents claim the group is connected to their son’s death because he was allowed to drink alcohol on their premises during a party the night of March 23, 2012. The station reported that Ayling’s blood-alcohol level was .287 at the time of the incident. The legal limit is .08.

The fraternity didn’t respond to a request for comment from the station.

The parents are seeking at least $50,000 in damages. A court date has not been scheduled.

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Information from: WDAY-TV, http://wday.com

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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