(West Point, Indiana – March 6, 2015)
A West Point, IN volunteer firefighter suffered trauma beyond belief early Friday morning at about 7:48 A.M. when he unknowingly responded along with his fellow WPVFD members to a railroad crossing accident in which his own wife, 34-year-old Rachel Logan, was killed in the collision with a Norfolk Southern crude oil freight train at the dangerous and unguarded crossing of West County Line Road on the border between Fountain and Tippecanoe Counties.
Volunteer firefighter Michael Logan, to whom Rachel had been married since 2004, was among the WPVFD crew who responded to the tragedy.
WPVFD Chief Gary Cheesman said that the tragic accident, which occurred at a crossing obviously claimed by neither county, knocked the victim’s blue Ford pickup truck some 120 feet east along the railroad tracks, overturning the demolished vehicle and trapping the victim inside. Although his responders worked quickly to free Mrs. Logan, “We extricated (her), and then, unfortunately, determined that the occupant was not breathing, not alive.”
Since the vehicle came to rest inside of Fountain County, the Fountain County Sheriff’s Office responder, Chief Deputy Bob Kemp, took charge of the investigation. Coroners and Sheriff’s officers from both counties were at the scene.
The crossing is not equipped with any active warning devices, such as lights and gates, to warn motorists of a daily average of 21 trains that cross West County Line Road at a maximum allowable speed of 60 mph.
It is virtually certain that if equipped with lights and gates this accident would not have happened. Both Norfolk Southern and Operation Lifesaver know that 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%.
A post on the WPVFD’s Facebook page carried the message that “We are asking for thoughts and prayers for one of our own over the next several days, weeks and months to come.”