(Warsaw, Indiana – March 15, 2013)
A 42-year-old female driver escaped with minor injuries while her 2004 Lexus SUV suffered heavy damage and the county seat of Kosciusko County, IN found motorists unable to get through most downtown rail crossings Friday morning after an 8:00 A.M. collision between the victim’s vehicle and a 132-car-long Norfolk Southern freight train at the non-gated crossing of NS railroad tracks and Market Street in Warsaw, IN.
Sandra Casanova of Fort Wayne, IN said she never saw the crossing lights nor did she hear a train whistle before the northbound train’s lead locomotive struck the driver’s side of her westbound car, dragging it two crossings beyond the point of impact before dislodging the car with the driver still inside at Main Street. When the train finally came to a stop, it was blocking the crossings of seven principal Warsaw streets, stymying both vehicular and pedestrian traffic for hours before authorities completed their investigation into the near-tragedy.
Railroad and government authorities must be at ease with the Market Street crossing’s dangerous past, because Friday morning’s accident was the 11th train/highway vehicle accident recorded there, accumulating a half-dozen injuries but, fortunately, no fatalities – yet! The most recent crash before Friday morning’s occurred September 22 of last year and resulted in a single injury. But with a daily average of 10 trains passing through Warsaw at a top allowable speed of 50 mph, the lack of crossing gates at the intersection continues to pose a serious threat to motorists in Warsaw until someone in authority recognizes the need for crossing gates to keep trains and drivers apart.