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Train speeds increased in 2016 where deadly accident happened

Updated: Jun. 30, 2017 at 6:15 PM EDT
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HENRYVILLE, IN (WAVE) - Federal changes in 2016 increased the speed from 25 miles an hour to 40 miles an hour on several train lines in Indiana, including the line where two children were killed in an accident on Wednesday.

"There are train speed changes they can go up to 49 miles through here," said Jessica Fedder of Operation Lifesaver.

CSX announced the changes in August of 2016. The changes were made in an effort to improve traffic and connectivity as trains travel from Seymour throughout Indiana.

Four-year-old Wyatt and five-year-old Adalynn were killed instantly when they were hit by a train Wednesday afternoon at the crossing at Pennsylvania and State Road 160. Their mother was also in the car, she is expected to survive.

"I knew that when they started the work here and the trains started to go faster, they would need some type of crossing gate," a neighbor said.

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First the speed, now the deadly accident, residents here in Henryville pushing for those gates even more.

"You know, I said  it would take someone getting killed and that seems to be what's happening," another neighbor said.

This crossing has had more than two accidents in five years, which means it qualifies for a case study by the Indiana Department of Transportation, one that will determine if gates are necessary.

But Jessica Fedder with Operation Lifesaver says gates don't necessarily make the difference between life or death.

"Gates are a warning device and not a protective device, and people still go around them," Fedder said.

Fedder says paying attention to every warning sign is crucial and if you get trapped on a tracks with a gate, drive through or run toward the train at a 45 degree angle.

The cause of Wednesday's crash still under investigation. With a heavy heart, Fedder says her organization will continue to prevent accidents at more than 6000 crossings here in Indiana.

"It's been a difficult week but we are trying to educate the public on rail safety," Fedder said.

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