(Portage, Indiana – April 16, 2018)
A 75-year-old Valparaiso, IN woman, Barbara A. Gibson, was fatally injured late Monday afternoon as she apparently became entrapped on the CSX crossing and was struck by a Norfolk Southern freight train. The victim was driving southbound on County Line Road a little before 5:00 P.M. when the tragedy occurred. She was following a school bus across the CSX/County Line Road grade crossing in Portage, IN when the bus came to a halt just beyond the tracks. As a result, her white Chevrolet Impala stopped on the crossing in the path of what news media described as a Norfolk Southern freight train.
The crossing, which is listed as belonging to CSX railroad in the Federal Railroad Administration’s rail crossing inventory, is equipped with flashing light signals but lacked the principal component of crossing gates, devices and preemption of adjoining roadway traffic signal system. These components would most certainly have prevented the accident.
According to the FRA, trains of several railroads, including Amtrak, cross County Line Road at a maximum allowable speed of 50 mph, and there had been no prior accidents recorded.
The road/rail intersection is on regular school bus routes and sees the passage of four school buses on an average school day.