Spate of 4 collisions involving trains hit Madison County in 2-week period

·3 min read

Jun. 5—ANDERSON — The week after 18-year-old Corbin Stanley was killed by a train April 23 in Anderson, a bicyclist and two vehicles were struck by trains in Madison County.

Witnesses said Aaron White, 46, of New Castle, rode around a railroad crossing arm May 5 in the 2700 block of South Scatterfield Road while on a bicycle, according to Anderson Assistant Police Chief Michael Lee.

A train clipped the bike and knocked White off, but he was alert and talking with medics when transported to an area hospital.

No deaths were reported in two other recent vehicle-train collisions. One occurred April 30 when a train struck a semi trailer at South D and 18th streets in Elwood. The other happened three days earlier when a train ran into a car at county roads 500 East and 900 North.

These incidents point to a disproportionately high number of train-pedestrian and train-car accidents locally and across the state.

Since 2011, six people have died in Madison County from railroad accidents, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Railroad Administration. A total of 226 people died across the state during those 10 years.

In 2020, there were 17 people killed on railroads in Indiana — including one death in Madison County, according to the railroad administration.

The local fatality occurred June 23, 2020, when a train collided with an SUV in Summitville. The driver of the SUV, Elizabeth Anne McLamb, 56, of Summitville, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Indiana had the fifth-most collisions at highway-rail grade crossings in 2020, according to preliminary data. The Hoosier state had 93 collisions resulting in eight deaths and 29 injuries at such crossings. Texas had the most collisions, followed by California, Georgia and Illinois.

Nationwide, 1,889 highway-rail grade crossing collisions in 2020 resulted in 675 injuries and 202 deaths.

Those are the lowest yearly numbers recorded by the agency, which provides online data back to 1981. COVID-19 travel restrictions likely contributed to the decline of such collisions, injuries and deaths.

Federal Railroad Administration data shows that 95% of all railroad fatalities occur from collisions at highway-rail grade crossings and people trespassing on railroad tracks.

Sheriee Bowman, a representative of CSX Transportation, said train accidents involving pedestrians or motorists are "all too common."

"About every three hours in the U.S., a person or vehicle is hit by a train," Bowman said. "That's why CSX invests time and resources to help educate pedestrians and motorists about the dangers of unsafe behavior near railroad tracks."

She said CSX works closely with its employees, communities and industry partners on education and awareness programs designed to end collisions, fatalities and injuries at grade crossings and on railroad tracks.

"We remind the public that railroad tracks are private property and trespassing on railroad property is extremely dangerous and illegal," she said.

Violators are prosecuted by the company and people who trespass on the railroad risk being seriously injured or killed, Bowman said. Pedestrians and motorists should use caution when near railroads and only use designated railroad crossings.

"We want everyone to return home to their families safely, whether they work for us or live in the communities we serve," she said.

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