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Triple Fatality at New York State Crossing Draws Congressional Attention

(Dunkirk, New York – September 27, 2011)

A U.S. Congressman has joined the effort of a mother, still grieving over the death of her son, one of three young men killed in an October 10, 2009 collision. The three men were hit by a CSX freight train at the crossing of CSX railroad tracks and Van Buren Road in Dunkirk, NY.

Robin Putnam-Cordova lost her son, Zachary Nydahl, and two of his friends when gates rose after the passage of one train, only to have a second train hit their rental truck. U.S. Congressman Brian Higgins (D-NY) is now calling for an investigation into videotaped reports of erratic railroad crossing gate operation at that location.

Putnam-Cordova, in a mission to make the crossing safer, has repeatedly filmed evidence of the crossing gates raising, then lowering, and even still in a raised position while a train is passing through the crossing.

“With the guard rails going up and down people think a train is not coming and go around the barriers,” she explained. “It’s creating a false sense of security.”

In a news conference at the crossing Tuesday, Congressman Higgins announced that he has sent a letter to the Federal Railroad Administration requesting an inspection of the site, adding that “If those (railroad) companies don’t comply with making improvements we will take legislative action to ensure the public that live here are, in fact, safer.”

The CSX line is also an Amtrak passenger train route, increasing the high-speed vulnerability of the crossing for accidents.

 

NOTE: Under Federal law, any request of a federal safety agency such as the Federal Railroad Administration by any member of Congress must be acted upon within 24 hours of receipt of the request, or no later than the next business day if a weekend or holiday period is in effect.