(Leesburg, Indiana – January 9, 2015)
An Indiana woman suffered serious injuries last Friday afternoon at about 4:30 P.M., EST when her vehicle was smashed by a Norfolk Southern freight train as she attempted to cross NS tracks that intersect with Kosciusko County Road 600 North, a crossing which can be described as both unguarded as well as dangerous.
Lorraine Amerkanos, 58, was eastbound on CR 600 N when the northbound freight train slammed into the passenger’s side of her car, leaving her trapped inside the heavily damaged vehicle. After she was extricated from her entrapment within the vehicle by first responders, she was taken to a Fort Wayne, IN hospital where she was admitted in serious condition with multiple unspecified injuries.
The danger of the crossing could be easily proven through records chronicled by county and railroad authorities, as it is not equipped with any active warning devices, such as lights and gates, to warn drivers of the imminent presence of oncoming trains, 19 of which cross there on an average day at a top allowable speed of 50 mph.
It is virtually certain that if equipped with lights and gates this accident and the four preceding accidents 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%.
According to railroad-supplied reports of four earlier, non-injury accidents, the most recent in 2012, 2008 and 2005, the crossing’s accident frequency should have been an indication of a need for active protection like properly-operating crossing gates, bells and flashing lights, the existence of which most certainly have prevented Friday’s near-tragedy.