Railroad News

Indiana Motorcyclist Dies at Obscured, Non-Signalized Crossing

(Crawfordsville, Indiana – May 4, 2011)

Trying desperately to stop, a 47-year-old Rockville, Indiana man, riding a 2007 Harley-Davidson motorcycle to work, was hit and killed by a northbound Amtrak passenger train travelling on CSX Railroad tracks Wednesday morning at a railroad crossing south of Crawfordsville.

The CSX Railroad crossing was both obscured by vegetation as well as equipped with neither lights, gates nor bells to warn motorists of approaching trains. Curtis R. Johns was wearing a motorcycle helmet and was riding to the Pilot Travel Center where he worked as a truck driver. The railroad crossing is at Montgomery County Road 150 South near County Road 250 East.

“The engineer (of the Amtrak train) said he saw smoke consistent with brake smoke before the collision,” said Montgomery County Sheriff’s Deputy Matt McCarty, who, of the railroad crossing which is partially obscured by trees on both sides, observed “There definitely is a little obstruction there.” He also pointed out that the crossing was equipped with warning signs in each direction as well as crossbucks at the tracks themselves.

Johns was pronounced dead at the scene by the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office. The accident remains under investigation.

Read more about this tragic accident HERE

This crossing was a text book example of an unusually dangerous crossing.   It is the railroad’s responsibility to recognize unusually dangerous crossings and remedy them appropriately. It’s well documented that railroad crossings which are guarded by only passive warnings (stop sign, crossbuck, advance warning sign) are as much as 10 times more dangerous than crossings with active warnings (lights, gates, bells.)

More than 90% of accidents at these dangerous crossings can be prevented by the installation of lights and gates, which has proven to be the #1 most cost effective method of saving lives at a crossing. Railroads know this, but neglect their duty for the sake of profits.