Latest deadly collision at railroad crossing prompts safety conversation

Latest deadly collision at railroad crossing prompts safety conversation
The crash happened in the 2000 block of Coopers Lane.

JEFFERSONVILLE, IN (WAVE) - There have been three fatal crashes at railroad crossings along U.S. 31 in southern Indiana since the summer of 2017. Those who work near Friday's collision site said, unfortunately, they were not surprised.

"When trains are coming, I do notice quite a few people trying to rush through and get across the track before it gets there," Keenan Bohall said.

Bohall works at 84 Lumber in Jeffersonville. On Friday, he heard an usually long train horn.

"It sounded like they were trying to give some kind of heads up," Bohall said. "At the time I didn't pay any mind to it."

But turns out, a crash happened at the crossing in the 2000 block of Coopers Lane.

A 78-year-old woman, Joyce Hogue, was killed and another person was transported to University Hospital.

>> PREVIOUS STORY: 1 killed, 1 injured when train hit car in Jeffersonville

In 2014, another collision happened at the same crossing.

Harry Maginity, of the Indiana Department of Transportation, said although the 2014 crash was not fatal, it prompted a safety study. More lights and two crossing arms will be installed. But those improvement have not been made.

"If arms were down in time it would prevent people trying to rush through there and the possibility of accidents in the future," Bohall said.

Jessica Feder doesn't necessarily agree: "Arms and gates do not make that crossing necessarily safer. It's up to you to be paying attention at all time."

Feder is the Executive Director of Indiana's Operation Lifesaver. The Louisville and Indiana Railroad Company told us they have spent a lot of money to educate the public through Operation Lifesaver.

CSX did increase the speed limit of trains in this area from 25 to 40 miles an hour.

"I think Coopers Lane is a hard road to turn down and make sure you are clear in the tracks," Feder said.

She told us 67% of crossing crashes in Indiana happen at crossings with gates. Feder added that the number of crashes in Indiana have steadily decreased since 2015.

In 2015, there were 119 crossing collisions. In 2016 there were 116, and in 2017 there were 101.

The fatalities each year have been between 11 and 12.

"I've seen more of an uptick in the elderly populations and collisions along this line," Feder said.

She told us Operation Lifesaver will begin to focus on an older demographic.

For Bohall, who crosses the tracks every day, the fatal crash is a reminder to stay alert.

"I am more cautious when I leave here now to check both ways before I go since there isn't an arm there," he said.

The promised lights and crossing arms will not be installed at until 2021, Maginity told us. He acknowledged this is a long time and recommended drivers find alternate route to avoid the crossing.

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