WHITELAND, Ind. – Members of the Johnson County community are worried for their own safety after a 20-year-old woman was killed when her car was hit by an oncoming train Tuesday night.
Residents want to know why nothing has been done. People in the area say the reason why it’s so dangerous is because there are no warning lights or a crossing arm. There’s just a stop sign and they say half the time drivers just ignore that, too.
“I heard the screeching and then I just heard the engines going off and, on all night,” said Linda Kuhn who lives nearby. “You cannot just beat those trains.”
The fatal accident happened at County Road 100 East and County Road 600 North in Whiteland. Alexis Trittipo lives minutes from the tracks.
“I’ve come pretty close to not noticing and it was a very heart wrenching moment,” said Trittipo. “I was ‘like oh gosh!’ I didn’t notice the train until it almost hit that intersection and it was 4 in the morning.”
A stop sign stands before the crossing, but drivers say it’s easy to miss.
“Sometimes the train doesn’t give a lot of notice before it hits that intersection and how fast they’re going sometimes, it’s very risky,” said Trittipo.
County officials are on board. Johnson County Sheriff Duane Burgess responded to the fatal crash. He says it’s tragic and it’s a concern, as the number of trains has increased.
“The trains are moving down these tracks quite fast and their unable to stop,” said Burgess.
According to the Indiana Department of Transportation website, the installation of lights or gates won’t solve the problem. Driver behavior is a significant factor. Sheriff Burgess says it’s time to assess which crossings need work before another life is lost.
“Technology is available, of course, everything costs money,” said Burgess. “But is it worth a human life? No. It’s not. We need to look at not just railroad crossings but some other intersections that we have throughout the county and take care of those for safety.”
According to Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers, a couple of years ago Johnson County partnered together with Whiteland and many other towns in the area for a rail safety grant. That grant was approved and will go into effect in 2021. It was for roughly $1.5 million.
Mayor Myers says he was also in Washington D.C. last week complaining to Senator Todd Young about the importance of rail safety and calls this crossing in Whiteland, unacceptable. He says too many people have been killed and it’s time to make some changes.