(Charleroi, Pennsylvania – February 19, 2022)
A 22-year-old motorist was killed over the weekend in Washington County as a result of a collision with a Norfolk Southern freight train. The collision occurred Saturday at about 2:30 p.m. at an unprotected Norfolk Southern crossing near the roadway intersections of 4th and Railroad Streets. The victim, Jaimyn Rauchfuss, was pronounced deceased at the scene.
According to railroad-supplied information, a daily average of twenty-seven trains traverse two sets of tracks at this crossing. The trains travel a typical speed of 30 mph while going through the Norfolk Southern crossing. There have also been at least ten prior collisions at this crossing, with the most recent occurring in August of 2020. At least five people have been injured in those prior collisions.
Yet, this Norfolk Southern crossing is not protected by any active warning devices, such as lights and gates. It is virtually certain that this collision could have been prevented if lights and gates were installed. Norfolk Southern 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 collisions by as much as 96%.
On Wednesday night, family and friends gathered at a park in Charleroi and lit candles in her memory. Some shared stories about Rauchfuss and what they will miss the most about her.
Local officials are still investigating the cause this collision.