(Manton, Michigan – March 3, 2015)
Another person was killed at the dangerous and unguarded crossing of Wexford County Road 14 and the Great Lakes Central Railroad last Tuesday. The victim, Kathryn Paddock, a 48 year-old local resident of Manton, MI, was struck and killed at the crossing which is just south of Manton. Her car was also completely destroyed in the collision. According to the Federal Railroad Administration, the train was one of a pair of trains that cross there on an average day. The Great Lakes Central Railroad bills itself as “the largest (400 miles) regional railroad in the state of Michigan.”
Ms. Paddock’s tragic death was neither the first accident nor the first fatality to occur at unguarded crossing where trains pass at a maximum 40 mph. Her tragedy marked the second death along with four other non-fatal, but serious, injuries suffered there (three in a single incident), and the fifth collision at that crossing.
It is virtually certain that if equipped with lights and gates this collision or any of the preceding collision would not have happened. Both Great Lakes Central Railroad 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%.
A “track record” as demonstrated by this public crossing demonstrates that the railroad was aware of the danger posed by the crossing’s lack of active signalization and the potential such held for disaster, as occurred there Tuesday morning.
The Great Lakes Central has been a wholly-owned subsidiary of Federated Capital Corporation since 2006, even though its listing of officials shows Louis P. Ferris, Jr., to be the railroad’s “owner and Chairman of the Board.”