(Batavia, Iowa – April 7, 2013)
As throngs of mourners packed the Cardinal Community High School gym outside of Eldon, IA, teachers and relatives of two young sisters killed Monday tried to bring comfort to grief-stricken parents and schoolmates at memorial services Sunday afternoon. The crash happened when their mother drove around crossing gates as she had been permitted to do only moments earlier, only to have her Dodge minivan blindsided by a westbound Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight train blocked from her vision by a standing eastbound train. For more information on click here.
Iowa State Patrol Sgt. Russ Morey affirmed the belief that the presence of the standing train kept the driver and mother, Tara Lewman-Clark, 25, from seeing the train blasting through on the opposite track. Lewman-Clark received moderate injuries while her one-year-old daughter, Jordan, is still in the University of Iowa Hospital in Iowa City, IA.
The older girls, Callie Clark 5, and Erica Clark, 4, kindergarten and pre-kindergarten students at Cardinal Community School, a consolidated school district serving Batavia, Eldon and three other small Iowa towns, had just been retrieved by their mother at the school bus stop on the opposite side of BNSF tracks from town, and the mother and her three daughters were headed for home in Batavia when tragedy struck in an instant.
A host of school and community leaders as well as relatives served as pallbearers, carrying the two small caskets to a pair of hearses, and a large procession of vehicles, led by a Cardinal Community school bus and including a squadron of motorcycles intended as a tribute to Erica, who loved to ride on the back of her father, Waylon Clark’s, motorcycle, and the grim motorcade proceeded several miles to the Batavia Community Cemetery, where the city had donated two adjacent burial plots for the two young sisters’ final resting places.