Train hits fuel tanker at Franklin railroad crossing with no signal

Local
Witnesses say semi-truck 'slung around' by train

FRANKLIN, Ind. (WISH) — A train hit the back of a semi-truck used to transport fuel Monday afternoon at a Franklin railroad crossing with no flashing lights or crossing arms.

The driver of the fuel tanker came to a complete stop, according to witnesses, and initially appeared to be waiting for the approaching train to clear the crossing at Earlywood Drive, east of U.S. 31.

He continued driving through the crossing despite being able to see and hear the train, authorities said.

Investigators blamed poor judgment and bad timing for the crash but noted the driver was “very lucky.”

The train was only traveling 40 mph and hit the back of the tanker, which was empty.

“We were blessed today that this tanker was not carrying any fuel,” said Franklin Police Chief Kirby Cochran. “The impact did rupture the tank but it did not have fuel. Otherwise we could have had a tragedy here in the city of Franklin.”

The truck driver and train conductor reported minor pain but neither was seriously injured.

The train involved in the collision was operated by CSX, company spokesperson Gail Lobin confirmed.

CSX is aware of the accident and assigned a special agent to investigate, she said.

The tracks that cut across Earlywood Drive in Franklin are operated by the Louisville & Indiana Railroad Company (LIRC).

John Goldman, the president of LIRC, said he was not aware of any safety complaints related to the Earlywood Drive crossing and urged drivers to obey the stop signs posted on either side of the tracks.

Residents and employees at nearby businesses told News 8 they “frequently” see drivers speeding through the railroad crossing instead of waiting for approaching trains to pass.

The incident Monday afternoon was the second train-vehicle collision in less than two weeks in Johnson County.

A 20-year-old Greenwood woman was killed March 20 at a railroad crossing in New Whiteland when a train hauling more than 80 freight cars struck her SUV, according to the sheriff’s office.

The deadly crash happened at Tracy Road, also named County Road 600 N, east of U.S. 31. 

The crossings at Earlywood Drive and Tracy Road have stop signs, but no flashing lights or crossing arms.

Both crossings are included on a list of 17 locations approved for a $4.3 million federal grant that will fund crossing upgrades aimed at improving safety.

The grant money covers 90 percent of the estimated cost and will be available in 2020.
 

FRANKLIN

  • Cincinnati Street
  • Earlywood Drive
  • King Street
  • Lynhurst Street
  • Monroe Street
  • Paul Hand Boulevard
  • State Street
     

GREENWOOD

  • Broadway Street
  • Main Street
  • Meridian Street
  • Pushville Road
     

JOHNSON COUNTY

  • County Road 150 South
  • County Road 250 South
  • County Road 300 South
     

WHITELAND

  • Tracy Road
  • Walnut Street
  • Whiteland Road

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