Saturday, February 27, 1999

Trespassers can opt for class over court




BY JANICE MORSE
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — More than 80 trespassers whom police caught in a sweep of the city's railroads this week may choose to go to class instead of to court.

        At the request of railroad officials and police, the Hamilton Municipal Court is allowing those who were cited in Wednesday'senforcement blitz to attend a train safety program rather than going to court, paying a fine and facing a possible sentence, said Officer Dave Crawford, Hamilton police spokesman.

        The class is set for 9 to 11 a.m. March 27 in Courtroom A of the Municipal Court, 331 S. Front St., Hamilton Police Officer Don Taylor said.

        Anyone with questions about the class may contact the court at 868-5780, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. weekdays.

        Allowing violators to attend class rather than go to court will still help accomplish the goal of the blitz: educating the public and reducing train-pedestrian collisions, Officer Taylor said.

        Last year, trains hit pedestrians 54 times, a five-year high in Ohio. There were 24 fatalities, 10 of them suicides, and 30 injuries, according to Operation Lifesaver Inc., a nonprofit railroad safety organization.

        Butler County was targeted for the blitz because last year it led the state in pedestrian-train crashes. Five trespassers were hurt and three were killed along the county's railways in 1998. In 1997, just one person was injured and no one was killed.

        The second-highest number in 1998 occurred in Hamilton County, where six pedestrians were hurt, but there were no fatalities.

        Officials say they plan a similar enforcement effort in Hamilton County sometime in March.

       



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