(Columbus, Indiana – November 16, 2018)
Two Columbus, IN teenagers died as a result of their injuries after their 2015 Nissan Versa was struck by a Louisville & Indiana freight train. The collision occurred at the non-gated crossing of L&I tracks and Bartholomew County Road West 550 North along a deadly stretch of railroad in southern Indiana about 10:17 P.M. Friday evening.
The rural crossing is equipped with flashing light signals, which a witness said were working and added that the train’s horn was being sounded.
On an average day, CR West 550 North is crossed by eight trains at a maximum allowable speed of 49 mph.
Both the driver, Matthew Newland, 18, and his passenger, Carmyn Elkins, 17, were alive but unconscious as Columbus Fire Department emergency personnel extricated them from their car’s wreckage. Each died after arrival at two hospitals, Newland at Columbus Regional and Elkins at University of Indiana Health Methodist.
The double tragedy marked the second and third fatality suffered in four collisions at the flashing lighted but not gated railroad crossing. It also marked the second double fatality to occur on L&I rail crossings in less than two months after two people died and a third suffered serious injuries at an unguarded crossing near Edinburgh, also in Bartholomew County, on October 8.
The L&I is one of a half dozen regional and short line railroads owned and operated by the Chicago-based Anacostia Rail Holdings Group.