(Darke County, Ohio – July 23, 2013)
A Darke County employee was injured and airlifted to a Dayton, OH hospital after her 1996 Buick Park Avenue was totaled by a westbound CSX freight train hauling six covered hopper cars loaded with grain at 50 mph as several CSX workers busy installing the support system for a new flashing lights/bells/crossing gates protective system at Younker Road looked on about 11:00 A.M. Tuesday morning.
Kathryn Baltes, 41, of Versailles, OH, who works as a cook at the Darke County Jail in Greenville, OH, was driving northbound on Younker Road when her vision of the dangerous, unguarded crossing was blocked by a large backhoe being used by the CSX crew to install drainage pipes in preparation for the addition of active signals to replace the present passive railroad cross-buck signage, and she drove into the train’s path. Where flagmen controlling access to the crossing, if any, were at the time of the accident was undetermined.
The victim, who was traveling with her pet dog, which also survived the collision, was taken by helicopter to Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, OH, where she was treated for undisclosed injuries and later released.
Since the victim is an employee of the county in which the accident occurred, a crash reconstruction specialist from the Miami County Sheriff’s Office will conduct the investigation, according to Darke County Sheriff Toby Spencer.
The current CSX/Younker Road crossing accommodates two dozen trains daily at a top permissible speed of 60 mph. There was no word as to when the upgraded, signalized crossing protective system might be activated.