(Weston, Ohio – August 11, 2014)
Numerous negative factors were present Monday evening when the male passenger in a car driven by his wife was pronounced dead at the scene after the couple’s southbound vehicle was struck by an eastbound CSX freight train at the dangerous and unguarded crossing of CSX rails and Weston Road just south of Weston, OH shortly after 7:00 P.M.
Marvin J. Harris, 38, of Custar, OH, died when the train collided with the passenger’s side of the vehicle being driven by Nikki L. Harris, 36. Mrs. Harris was airlifted by helicopter to Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center in Toledo, OH, where she was treated for unspecified injuries and admitted in fair condition.
The crossing has no active warning devices such as flashing lights, gates which could possibly warn motorists of any of the nine CSX trains that cross there daily at a top allowable speed of 50 mph. It is virtually certain that if equipped with lights and gates this accident could have been prevented. Both Union Pacific and Operation Lifesaver know lights and gates are the most effective type of protection at railroad crossings. Studies that have been conducted over fifty years ago confirm that lights and gates offer the ability to drastically reduce the number of vehicle/train accidents by as much as 96%.
How the unguarded intersection has avoided previous collisions is nothing short of amazing, as the crossing has four extreme angles of railroad meeting roadway, two of them obtuse and the other two acute, thus limiting sight distances for operators of autos and trucks, or any highway vehicle for that matter. Couple those situations with the fact that the crossing is surrounded by corn fields of tall stalks as harvest nears, and the existence of groves of trees in full late summer foliage, again limiting drivers’ views of trains approaching at non-perpendicular angles.