(Orestes, Indiana – November 2, 2014)
A 23-year-old local man was hospitalized for treatment of lacerations and brain damage Sunday afternoon at about 5:30 P.M., EST after the driver’s side of his 2012 Chevrolet Camaro was struck and the vehicle totaled by a westbound Norfolk Southern freight train at the dangerous, unguarded crossing of County Road 400 West and NS railroad tracks near Orestes, IN..
Ryan Scholer, 23, was headed south on Madison County Road 400 West when his car was smashed on the driver’s side by the westbound train, one of a daily average of seven which operate through the rail corridor at a maximum allowable speed of 49 mph according to the Federal Railroad Administration.
The victim was then taken by ground ambulance to St. Vincent Mercy Hospital in Elwood, IN, but the serious nature of his injuries required that he be flown to St. Vincent Hospital on 86th Street in Indianapolis, IN for treatment.
The crossing has absolutely no active warning devices (flashing lights, bells and crossing gates) to give motorists warning of oncoming trains. It is virtually certain that if equipped with lights and gates this accident would not have happened. Both Norfolk Southern 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%.
Sunday’s tragedy was the third collision to occur there. The most catastrophic of the earlier accidents was the one that occurred May 25, 2005, when a 17-year-old driver in a pickup truck was struck and killed.