Parents file lawsuit

The parents of a UND student who died in a rail yard accident two years ago are suing the involved parties. Blake Ayling, 20, was found dead on the morning of March 24, 2012 at the rail yard located on the south end of the UND campus.

Ayling allegedly was drinking at Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity on the night of March 23 and crossed through the rail yard on his way home. According to the Associated Press, his roommate said that Ayling frequently walked across the rail yard as a shortcut to campus.

Authorities ruled Ayling’s death an accident. His arm was maimed by a train and he died of blood loss.

Corey and Robin Ayling filed the personal injury claim against BNSF Railroad and the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity in March. The Aylings are seeking at least $50,000 in damages from the railroad and the fraternity for negligence in their son’s death. A court date has not yet been scheduled.

In the lawsuit, the Aylings argue that BNSF did not make efforts to warn pedestrians of the dangers of walking through the rail yard even though the company knew that people frequently crossed through. They also state that the railroad company did not put up signs or barriers to stop pedestrians, and there are no signs or barriers to stop pedestrians, and there are no signs near the area that authorities believe Ayling crossed through before the accident.

A report from WDAY states that BNSF spokeswoman Amy McBeth said, “We will review the filing and respond through the legal process.”

Pi Kappa Alpha is included in the lawsuit because the Aylings believe the fraternity contributed to their son’s death by allowing him to drink alcohol on its premises. An autopsy revealed that Blake Ayling’s blood alcohol level was .287 at the time of the incident.

Sophomore biology major Austin Ganje offered his thoughts on the parents’ decision to file a lawsuit.

“I understand where the parents are coming from, because it’s a tragic accident,” he said. “However, I feel that the fault is not that simple to pinpoint on any of the involved parties. The railroad, fraternity and individual all equally played a role in what happened, and the combination of all three circumstances is what caused the accident.”

Ganje predicts the case will result in positive changes to protect students in the future.

“I think more safety measures will be put in place by the railroad and the fraternity to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again on the UND campus,” he said.

Emmy Erbes is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected].