(California, Kentucky – May 26, 2013)
An out-of-town couple, returning to a popular Ohio Riverside campground after a trip to a local store, had the 2004 Honda CRX they were in crushed by a passing southbound CSX freight train consisting of two locomotives and eight empty coal hopper cars at the dangerous, unguarded crossing entering the camping area from Kentucky Highway 8, just west of the intersection of Route 8 (The Laura Ingalls Highway) and Dead Timber Road, at about 7:58 P.M. Sunday evening.
Driver Trista Wagner, 29, of Fairfield, KY died in the collision at the crossing, which utilizes only standard passive railroad crossbuck and highway “stop” signs to “protect” motorists from the eight CSX freight trains that cross there at speeds as high as 79 mph, when the short train hit the driver’s side of her vehicle. Passenger Johnnie Laswell, 33, of Cincinnati, OH was airlifted to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center in Cincinnati, OH.
Without the flashing lights, bells and crossing gates elements of a grade crossing protective system the railroad industry’s own lobbying agency, the Association of American Railroads, said of a study made five years ago which claimed 94% of all accidents and deaths at railroad grade crossings could be prevented with the utilization of such systems, the validity of the study stood for itself in Sunday’s tragedy.
Campbell County, KY Police Chief Keith Hill offered speculation on the condition of Laswell’s condition, saying the prognosis was “that he’s going to make it.”