(New Waverly, Indiana – May 19, 2017)
A Logansport, IN family suffered the loss of two of its members while a third was in a Fort Wayne hospital with critical injuries after a westbound Norfolk Southern freight train slammed into their Kia Sportage SUV at the dangerous, unguarded and heavily-obscured crossing of Cass County Road 800 East just west of New Waverly, IN at about 4:20 P.M. Friday.
The train, emerging from heavy tree and trackside vegetation, carried the Kia nearly three-quarters of a mile from the point of impact at the deadly and dangerous crossing. The crossing had already claimed one life in a May 7, 1986 tragedy.
Killed were the two passengers of the Kia, Stefanie Carter, 42, and one of her sons, Nate Gibbs, 19. The driver Bradley Graves, 22, another of Ms. Carter’s sons, was airlifted to Parkview Regional Medical Center in Fort Wayne, IN, where he was admitted in serious condition.
The dangerous and unguarded crossing of CR 800 East accommodates a daily average of 32 Norfolk Southern freight trains which can travel at a maximum speed of 60 mph. It is virtually certain that if this crossing was protected by active warning devices, this collision would not have occurred. Both Norfolk Southern and Operation Lifesaver all 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 accidents by as much as 96%.
“It’s pretty cut and dry,” Cass County Sheriff’s Deputy Shane Johnson told Logansport Paros Tribune Reporter Sarah Einselen at the scene. “The crossing at 800 East is marked by rail crossing and yield signs.”
How the victims could ever have see a train to yield to is a mystery, as the southeast quadrant of the road/rail intersection is so heavily obscured that any motorist would not be able to see an oncoming westbound train in enough time to stop.
Both deceased occupants were seated on the passenger side of the SUV.