(Lake Odessa, Michigan – August 19, 2013)
A 20-year-old motorist from Portland, MI was killed at about 8:00 P.M. Monday night as he drove northbound on Jordan Lake Avenue in Lake Odessa, MI, and was struck by an eastbound CSX freight train as it emerged from a heavily forested and wooded area blocking vision of eastbound trains by northbound highway traffic. Impaled on the front of the train, the car driven by Michael Cole burst into flames as it was carried a considerable distance down the track where the train finally stopped.
The crossing is equipped with overhead cantilever flashing signals, but no report of whether they were operating properly was forthcoming from authorities. The crossing, however, lacked the protective items which could have been most critical in preventing the tragedy: railroad crossing gates!
The crossing is also located directly behind the community’s McDonald’s Restaurant, which develops considerable highway traffic. In fact, Federal Railroad Administration Crossing Inventory System documents indicate street traffic outnumbers trains 3,735 to four on a daily average, with trains traveling at a maximum speed of 40 mph across the intersection.
Responding to the tragic accident, in addition to the Michigan State Police, were Lake Odessa Police, the Ionia County Sheriff’s Dept., Life EMS, Ionia County Victim’s Advocate, Ionia County Central Dispatch and CSX Police.