Last Thursday, a horrific and terrible thing happened in Butler County, Ohio, when young father Robert Stacey Brown, 33, toted the stroller of his 4 year old son, Robert Coy Brown, across the train tracks in the late afternoon. In fact, it was just after five o’clock there, near where Potter Avenue and East State Street intersect, when Mr. Brown and his little boy were hit by a fast-moving freight train with a force so hard that their bodies were thrown almost 60 feet away from the site of impact.
There were no witnesses to the tragedy and investigators for law enforcement as well as regulatory agencies and the owner of that train (CSX) are all doing their investigations now.
You would think that this sort of news, a train crash killing someone on the tracks, in today’s modern times would be rare. Sad, horrible – but rare for our area. You would be wrong.
Just a few weeks ago, on January 9, 2012, another tragic death due to a railroad train happened when a teenage boy on his way to school at Lake Forest High was killed by a moving Metra train not far from his suburban Lake Forest home. The boy was killed by the train around half past seven that morning, on tracks near the 1400 block of Western Avenue — but the train was going so fast that the train engineer didn’t even know that anyone had been hit by his machine and Union Pacific North reportedly was initially trying to figure out exactly when train hit the Illinois teenager.
Our sincerest condolences go out to these families who are undoubtedly suffering greatly from the truly tragic loss of people with so much of their lives ahead of them. This is a particularly grievous tragedy.
However, this news also brings with it a need to bring attention to the true dangers of trains and railroad crossings in this area, as well as across the country.
Railroads, as common carriers, are heavily regulated in this country. State laws govern safety issues (like those of Ohio and Illinois) but federal laws also apply whenever that railroad crosses a state line. Then, the Interstate Commerce Act and other federal regulations come into play for trains and railroad lines.
Still, passing laws and preventing tragic fatalities like these are two different things. Right now, we do not know all the facts surrounding these sad, sad deaths – but we do know that the power of a moving train is no match for a human being.
Be careful out there, particularly when you are walking or driving near any kind of railroad crossing or train track.