‘Heard the building shake:’ Train collides with semi in Oconomowoc

OCONOMOWOC -- Streets throughout downtown Oconomowoc were closed for several hours Friday morning, March 22 as crews investigated a train versus semitruck crash that happened near Main Street and Summit Avenue.

No one was injured, but five people were assessed for minor injuries. The impact of the crash sent massive pieces of debris flying across the street and even into nearby businesses.

Centered around all things railroad, for decades Maxim's at the Oconomowoc Depot Restaurant has been serving food -- and an up-close view of the daily trains passing through Oconomowoc.

"It's a very historical business," said Kyla Zarco Aparicio, a waitress at Maxim's.

Shortly after 8:00 a.m., Zarco Aparicio was waiting tables when a freight train crashed into a semitruck.

"All you could hear was customers screaming in here," said Zarco Aparicio. "I heard the building shake, and I thought it was coming in the building. That's how loud it was."

Witnesses say the truck driver was unable to negotiate a turn while crossing the tracks.

"There were two guys in the cab, and one called down and said, 'Call 911,'" said Zarco Aparicio.

As the driver tried to back up, the train struck the trailer, splitting it in two.

Oconomowoc train crash

"Part of it's on the north side, part of it's on the south side," said Brad Bowen, Western Lakes Fire District Chief.

Paramedics and firefighters rushed to the scene, fearing serious injuries.

Oconomowoc train crash

"The whole block behind us here has debris scattered," explained Bowen. "Parts of material that were on the semitruck, which were large sheets of steel. Several hundred pounds each, which were projected across the intersection."

Miraculously, Bowen says the debris only cracked a few windows at Maxim's -- and left the people inside a little rattled.

"I'm glad everyone's okay, and we're all safe," said Zarco Aparicio.

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