(Morrow County, Ohio – March 21, 2015)
A 9-year-old boy died and his father was flown to a hospital with serious injuries Saturday morning at about 8:40 A.M., EDT when they attempted to drive their SUV across the dangerous and unguarded intersection of Morrow County Road 32 and CSX railroad tracks two miles north of Iberia, OH and were struck by a westbound CSX freight train.
County Road 32 intersects with the railroad tracks at an angular crossing, where southbound drivers are approaching at an acute angle, making westbound trains difficult to see coming, especially when there is a long line of trees blocking their approach and the angle of the sun existent at that time of morning.
The as-yet unidentified victim was properly buckled in his seat belt, as was the father, but could not survive the massive blow delivered by the train, which officials said was going about 36 mph in a rail corridor which accommodates up to 18 trains daily at a top allowable speed of 60 mph.
Investigators said that the father stopped at the crossing but then proceeded, obviously unaware of the train’s approach. A Mount Gilead post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper who responded to the accident expressed concern to one Columbus, OH TV station that not having gates at area crossings is a safety concern. The CR 32 (also known as Kieffer Road) crossing is not equipped with any active warning devices, such as lights and gates even though there were two previous collisions at this crossing.
It is virtually certain that if equipped with lights and gates this accident would not have happened. Both CSX 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%.
The father, who was alert and communicating with first responders, was flown to Grant Hospital in Columbus with serious injuries not the least of which was the one to his heart over losing his child. Law enforcement authorities did not identify either by name or place of residence pending notification of family.