(New Whiteland, Indiana – March 19, 2019)
A 20-year-old woman died tragically Tuesday night about 10:43 PM when her Nissan Versa was struck by a CSX freight train at a dangerous and unguarded rail crossing scheduled to be upgraded later this year.
Shauna Brooklynne Synesael of Greenwood, IN, “probably never saw the train” according to what investigators from the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office told WTHR-TV Channel 13 reporter Anna Carrera.
The CSX train, which travels on L&IRR tracks via trackage rights, was said by CSX officials to be travelling just less than 50 mph.
The crossing of CR 600 N (Tracy Road) and Louisville & Indiana Railroad tracks in New Whiteland, IN is not equipped with any active warning devices, such as lights and gates. A daily average of 8 L&IRR and CSX trains that cross there at a maximum allowable speed of 49 mph. The crossing is also used by a large number of highway vehicles each day, including school busses when school is in session. There had been a previous, non-injury collision at this crossing.
In talking with WISH-TV News Channel 8 in Indianapolis’s Jenny Dreasler, Greenwood, IN Mayor Mark Myers said that the crossing is “on the list” of road/rail intersections scheduled for improvement in 2021, but was unsure of how extensive the addition would be.
L&IRR President John Goldman told the Channel 13 reporter that “the intersection is scheduled to get an upgrade this year,” and that such would “probably involve lights and gates”.
Johnson County Sheriff Duane Burgess told Channel 13’s Carrera that the location of the crossing “is a rural setting and it is a little dark in that area,” but added that “the tragic accident was very unfortunate what happened last night to a young lady that had a life to live , many years in front of her.”
WISH-TV’s coverage of a post-accident community reeling in shock from the effects of the horrible accident was intensive, as the investigative reporter (Dreasler) interviewed many residents and others reflecting upon the tragedy. She called the crossing “poorly marked, and “a problem area for years.
While local resident Alex Novack made a plea for crossing gates, poor visibility was the concern of Chris Atwood, another resident, who told Channel 8 that “the weeds will grow up so high you can barely see the stop sign.”
“It surprised me that it hasn’t happened before,” surmised Sara Steward. But the question of Brittney Lingg, the victim’s cousin, said it all. “How many more lives must it take before something happens?”