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Family warns of railroad crossing danger after daughter dies in Whiteland

Whiteland woman struck and killed by train.PNG
Posted at 5:10 PM, Sep 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-24 20:41:24-04

WHITELAND — Indiana is ranked third nationally for railroad crossing collisions.

Indiana Department of Transportation, Indiana State Police and railroad companies are partnering to raise awareness about the dangers of disregarding stop signs at crossings. Dangers that a Whiteland family knows all too well.

On March 19, Krista Smith's 20-year-old daughter, Shauna Smith, died after being hit by a train.

"If she had her radio up, she may have not heard the horn. Being in a hurry, her perception may have been off in the dark. We really don't know," Krista Smith, whose daughter was killed by a train, said.

In just a matter of seconds, a mother was without her daughter, and a younger sister was without her best friend.

"It's at crossings with lights, it's at crossings without lights, it's in urban areas, it's in rural areas, it really does not discriminate," John Goldman, Louisville and Indiana Railroad president, said.

Last year, there were 150 railroad crossing collisions in Indiana alone. As a result, 54 people were injured, and 17 Hoosiers died.

"You see the effects it has on the family and loved ones, you can't help but not be affected," Norm Gabehart, Whiteland Town Manager, said.

Shauna was killed at the crossing on Tracy Road in Whiteland. The town manager was there that night and was so devastated by this loss that they had signs made to place at every railroad crossing throughout Johnson County.

"We don't like to be reactionary, but sometimes complacency exists all around our lives," Gabehart said. "And for us, we feel compelled to do whatever we can to save someone else."

Gov. Eric Holcomb has even declared this week — 9/23 to 9/27 — "Indiana Rail Safety Week."

As part of Rail Safety Week, companies like Louisville & Indiana Railroad, as well as CSX Police, are out making sure people stop when trains are passing by — and if not, they're writing violations.

"Railroad tracks are not a place to play," Goldman said. "Anytime you're around a railroad track, whether it's on foot or in a vehicle, pay attention to what's going on. If there's lights flashing, they're flashing for a reason. If there's not, there's a stop sign. Stop means stop look."

"We would never ever want another family to go through the grief of the loss that we have felt in the last six months, and that's going to last us forever," Krista said.

Indiana has also had 12 trespasser deaths last year, as well as seven injuries.

Safety officials urge people to stay off the tracks.