(Owasso, Oklahoma February 2, 2017)
The crossing lights at the intersection of East 76th Street North and tracks of the South Kansas & Oklahoma Railroad in Owasso, OK failed to activate Wednesday night at about 10 PM, when the driver of a Pontiac and two passengers, all headed for work, collided with the second of three locomotives hauling an SKOL train. The collision seriously injured and nearly killed the driver and his two passengers.
The train (crossing) lights werent working and I didnt see the train until I was probably 20 or 30 feet from it, Scott Cosper of Bristow, OK told Tulsa TV station KJRH. I locked up the brakes and hit it, he continued.
Cosper said he has driven the same route to work for two years, and that the crossing lights normally work properly. But Wednesday night they didnt, and it was no surprise to people who live or work near the crossing where at least three SKOLRR trains cross daily at speeds limited to 20 mph, and where two previous non-injury crashes had occurred.
Its horrible because it could have been a catastrophe, Amber Shew, general manager of Fishbonz restaurant, which is adjacent to the crossing of SKOL tracks and E. 76th Street N, told Fox TV Channel 25s Ethan Hutchins.
Owasso native Brandie Phillips adamantly agreed with Shew, telling the Fox TV station that the lights have failed to work properly before. Meanwhile, Fox News observed that No one in town is surprised at all that the lights were off. Some say the railroad crossing is always dark.
Owasso Police Dept. Lt. Nick Boatman admitted to Fox 25 that when OPD officers arrived at the accident scene Wednesday night, they didnt see any crossing lights on either. And he was observant of the crossings lack of gates as well, saying Its not out of the realm of possibility that this guy was driving down the road and the bars (crossing gates) werent across the road and he just smacked into the train.
Pittsburgh, KS Watco, private owner of the SKOL and a huge multi-national short line railroad and rail terminal conglomerate, said that theres been a scheduled maintenance project along those Owasso tracks over the last few days, but, again according to Fox 25 News, would not confirm if thats why the lights were not on.
I think they should always check them (those) lights daily, the car owner and driver Cosper told KJRH, adding Not just once a month or whenever because anyone could have a wreck.