(Greensburg, Indiana – June 19, 2023)
At about 12:30 pm last Monday a local Decatur County motorist was killed by a freight train. The Indiana State Police identified the motorist as Charles A. Papenhaus, 78, of Greensburg. Papenhaus sustained fatal injuries in the collision and was pronounced deceased at the scene by the Decatur County Coroner’s Office.
The collision occurred at the dangerous, and unguarded Indiana & Ohio Railway crossing on County Road 200E and near the roadway intersection of State Road 46. According to the state police, Mr. Pepenhaus was traveling southbound on the county road when he was struck on his driver’s side by an westbound freight train.
According to railroad-submitted records, there are an average of four trains that travel through this crossing at a typical speed of 25 mph. The roadway speed for motorists going through this crossing is 50 mph. There is also heavy vegetation in multiple quadrants of the crossing that can obscure a motorist’s view of an oncoming train.
As stated, this vegetation-obscured crossing is not protected with any active warning devices, such as lights and gates. It is virtually certain that the addition of lights and gates could have prevented this tragedy. 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 collisions by as much as 96%.
The Indiana State Police are investigating this crash.