(Johnson County, Indiana – August 3, 2011)
The Jamestown, IN dangerous, unguarded railroad crossing tragedy earlier this week has provided a venue for an Indiana-based railroad grade crossing accident victims’ organization that is raising funds for crossing protection neither railroads nor government agencies would provide.
Indianapolis television station WTHR, Channel 13 focused Wednesday on “Arms of Life”, an effort born of the tragic deaths of two Indiana brothers, Travis (9) and Jake (12) Findley, who died in a February, 2007 tragedy at the Indiana Railroad Company crossing of Stones Crossing Road in Greenwood, IN.
The two brothers were passengers in an SUV which was struck at the crossing, equipped solely by crossbuck signs, by a IRC train of five locomotives hauling 59 cars at 35 mph. Three other occupants of the car were seriously injured, and the IRC’s narrative on the required Federal Railroad Administration report form audaciously claimed that the “Train was approaching crossing northbound when vehicle encroached on railroad property, fouling tracks and resulted in being struck by train.”
Chuck Findley, the boys’ father, decided there were other, more effective methods of reaction than outcry, formed the “Arms of Life” organization, and in barely four years since the tragedy has raised over $750,000 to provide gates and lights at unguarded Indiana railroad crossings. The first of three completed was the notorious Stones Crossing Road intersection, and a fourth installation is currently underway.
“If we can save at least one life because of those crossings, that’s worth it,” says Findley of the ongoing effort. WTHR-TV pointed out that, out of approximately 5,800 public railroad crossings in the state, 2600 are still guarded solely by signs.
“It’s a matter of priorities,” said Indiana DOT Spokesman Henry Maginity.
“You can’t take life for granted,” countered “Arms of Life” founder Findley.