(Defiance, Ohio – October 11, 2015)
An unsuspecting and unwarned Defiance, OH motorist lost his life Sunday morning at about 10:20 A.M., EDT, as he unsuccessfully attempted to cross CSX heavily-used railroad tracks southbound at a dangerous and unguarded private crossing near the intersection of Spruce and Florence streets just outside of Defiance, only to be struck on the driver’s side of his pickup truck by a westbound train.
Robert Crowell, 82, likely never saw nor heard the train, one of a daily average of 58 trains that cross there at a maximum allowable speed of 60 mph according to records kept by the Federal Railroad Administration, as the triple-tracked road/rail intersection does not have any warning signals such as flashing lights and crossing gates. No indication was found in regard to whether or not the train’s engineer blew the locomotive’s horn to warn the victim of the train’s approach.
It is virtually certain that if this crossing was 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%.
According to Defiance County Sheriff’s Dept. Capt. Chris Clawson, the victim was pronounced dead at the scene.