Thursday, June 19, 2003

Lights flashed as car stalled

Was error a factor in crash?

By Karen Gutierrez
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Angie Nadler had bought the red Ford from a relative several weeks ago, and she was thrilled. No more depending on neighbors to push the old Chrysler into the driveway when it conked out. No more calling her boss to say she'd be late because the car had quit again.

The new one, a 1991 Probe, had only one drawback: a stick shift Nadler didn't quite know how to use. She joked with her co-workers at Gold Star Chili about trying to keep it from stalling.

That was Angie, they said - always finding a way to laugh.

And always putting her family first.

That's what the 25-year-old was doing Tuesday, police say, when the Probe stalled on railroad tracks in Walton.

Angie Nadler and her two daughters, Faithe, 6, and Grace, 4, were struck and killed by a train as she tried frantically to get them out of the car.

Nadler's husband, Kevin, and the couple's youngest child, Kevin Jr., 3, survived. Kevin Jr. was recovering at Children's Hospital Medical Center on Wednesday. His condition was not released.

Kevin Nadler was driving the Probe when it stalled, police say. The Boone County Sheriff's Office is still piecing together what happened, including whether unfamiliarity with the car's stick shift played a role. The track's warning lights were flashing when Nadler tried to drive across, Maj. Jack Banks said Tuesday.

Observing the system Wednesday morning, an Enquirer reporter found that about 35 seconds elapsed between the start of the flashing lights and the train's arrival. The train's horn can be heard as many as two minutes before, but the intersection has no gates to block cars.

Railroad officials are investigating how fast Tuesday's Norfolk Southern train was going, but there is no reason to believe it was speeding, Banks said.

The Nadlers were on their way to visit Angie's father when the accident occurred. She had the day off from Gold Star. Because of a recent back injury, Kevin Nadler wasn't working his usual job at a powder-coating factory.

The couple lived frugally and focused on family, neighbors said.

Faithe, who had just finished kindergarten, was looking forward to a birthday in July. She loved camping, so the family had planned on pitching tents at Mammoth Cave State Park to celebrate, said Marlene Larson, one of Angie's friends.

The Larsons and Nadlers spent a lot of time together, throwing horseshoes at backyard picnics, combining talents to paint murals in the Larsons' home.

Kevin Nadler, a good artist, drew superheroes on her son's bedroom walls, Larson said. Then she and Angie painted them together.

The couple had used a recent tax refund to fix up their mobile home, Larson said. They bought a washer and dryer. Angie got the Probe.

"She was always making fun of it 'cause she didn't know how to drive it," said Britni List, a co-worker at Gold Star Chili. "She was just kind of learning."

Nadler's teasing helped break up the boredom on the night shift. She and her coworkers decorated the restaurant for Christmas and Halloween, and on special "firefighter nights," Nadler brought her children to see the big red trucks.

She was so careful with the children, Larson said. Whenever the women went shopping together, Nadler made sure the children were buckled in.

Donations to the Nadler family can be made at any Bank of Kentucky branch.


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