(Conneautville, Pennsylvania – July 24, 2018)
Two local area men were being treated at a Pennsylvania hospital after the red pickup truck they were in was struck and mangled by a Canadian National freight train consisting of three locomotives powering 71 freight cars. The collision occurred at a dangerous, unguarded and heavily vegetation-obscured private grade crossing near the 19500 block of Canal Road one mile south of Conneautville, PA shortly before noon Tuesday.
The pickup was being driven by Kevin Joseph Zebik, 54, with Steven George Cianca, 49, as his passenger.
The crossing lacks any form of active protective warning devices, such as flashing lights and crossing gates. It is also certain these protective devices would have prevented the collision. Both Canadian National and Operation Lifesaver know that lights and gates are the most effective type of protection at railroad crossings and studies have confirmed that lights and gates offer the ability to drastically reduce the number of vehicle/train collisions by as much as 96%.
According to information banked by the Federal Railroad Administration, a daily average of six CN freight trains traverse the unguarded crossing at a maximum allowable speed of 35 mph.
Given the fact that FRA rail crossing safety rules do not require train personnel to blow the locomotive’s horn as they approach crossings designated as “private,” it is unknown whether the victims ever heard or saw the oncoming train until it was too late to stop, if at all.
One victim was airlifted to the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center- Hamot, at Erie, PA, while the other was transported by ground ambulance to the same facility.