(Otego, New York – August 9, 2015)
A man and a woman, known to be husband and wife, were struck by a south-westbound Canadian Pacific freight as they attempted to drive their gasoline-powered golf cart across a dangerous, unguarded and rough-surfaced agricultural crossing near Otego, NY, about 75 miles southwest of Albany, NY, at about 2:51 P.M., EDT Sunday afternoon.
Charles Turk, 57, was killed and his wife, Cynthia Turk, 58, both from Bloomville, NY, had both her legs broken when the train overturned the golf cart, pinning the man beneath it and throwing her clear of the wreckage of the vehicle.
The couple’s dog, who was riding with them on the golf cart, was also killed in the tragic crash.
The couple had been camping in the area, reached through a road at the address of 551 Otsego County Highway 48, over the weekend, and may never have seen or heard the approaching train, one of a daily average of 14 which cross the CP tracks at a maximum allowable speed of 40 mph, according to the Federal Railroad Administration. The train consisted of two locomotives and 31 rail cars.
There was no railroad crossing signage, and certainly no active protective devices such as flashing lights, bells or crossing gates, to warn crossing users of oncoming trains. It is virtually certain that if this crossing was equipped with lights and gates, this accident would not have happened. Both CP 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%.
Mrs. Turk was airlifted via LifeNet helicopter to Albany Medical Center, where she was admitted in serious but stable condition.
“We don’t know the circumstances surrounding the incident yet,” New York State Police spokesman Nathan Riegal told news media Monday. “Maybe they weren’t able to stop before hitting the train,” he added.