Saturday, July 27, 2002

Three injured as van, train collide

Woman was killed a year ago today at the same ungated crossing

By David Eck
Enquirer contributor

        NEWTOWN — Three people were injured Friday afternoon in a car-train collision at a railroad crossing here — nearly a year after a fatal collision at the same crossing.

[photo] Anderson Township Assistant Fire Chief Tom Riemar watches a helicopter transport victims.
(Jeff Swinger photo)
| ZOOM |
        Friday's accident occurred at the crossing on Debolt Street, near Ohio 32. The victims, one adult and two children, were taken to University Hospital. Their identities and conditions were not disclosed. .

        The minivan was traveling south on Debolt when it was struck by an eastbound Norfolk & Southern train, Newtown police said.

        The train, made up of two locomotives and 16 cars, hit the van on the right front.

        The accident remains under investigation by the Newtown police, federal investigators and Norfolk & Southern officials, said Newtown Police Sgt. Thomas Synan.

        The crossing, which has no gates or warning lights, was the scene of a collision July 27, 2001Mary Clark, a 65-year-old Florida woman, died after her car was struck by an eastbound Norfolk Southern train. Her car apparently failed to yield, authorities said.

        Only large white and red signs warn drivers of the crossing.

        Debolt Street is a dead end

        that runs off Ohio 32 and leads to a cluster of summer cottages. It is much busier during the summer months, Sgt. Synan said.

        Newtown Mayor John Hammon said Friday installing warning gates and lights would have cost about $150,000 — about 12 percent of the village's annual budget.

        “That was very cost-prohibitive,” Mr. Hammon said.

        The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio and the Ohio Rail Development Commission are working to upgrade all of Ohio's railroad crossings with gates and lights, PUCO spokeswoman Shana Gerber said.

        Information on where Debolt Road falls on the list was not available Friday, Ms. Gerber said, but priorities are based on the number and speed of trains,

        the volume and speed of vehicular traffic, and accident history.

        “I think people need to exercise extreme caution when coming up to railroad tracks,” Sgt. Synan said. ”The train is always going to win.”

        Enquirer reporter Cindi Andrews contributed.


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