OSP meeting with prosecutors on train-van crash

Posted at 6:37 PM, Sep 10, 2015

MIDDLETOWN, Ohio -- An Ohio State Highway Patrol official said troopers will meet with Butler County prosecutors to discuss possible charges for the driver of a van carrying children to vacation Bible school that crashed into the side of a freight train.

Lt. Clint Arnold told WCPO media partner the Journal-News a blood sample was taken from Judith Ashley, 63, after the July 28 crash. He declined to share the results of those tests.

The van's front-seat passenger, Jan Martin, 62, died of her injuries not long after the collision. There were also nine children in the van at the time, ages 4 to 10. None of the children was seriously injured.

A front-seat passenger was killed in the collision. Photo by WCPO.

According to an Ohio State Highway Patrol traffic crash report, Ashley told two Middletown firefighters at the scene she'd been taking both Vicodin and Adderall the day of the wreck. Vicodin contains hydrocodone, an opiate pain killer, and Adderall is used to treat narcolepsy and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

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Ashley, wife of Church at Mayfield pastor Rev. Gary Ashley, was on her last pickup of the night when the van crashed. A railroad crossing gate was fully closed, investigators said, and the train was going about 3 mph.

"It wasn't like she was trying to go through, it wasn't like the train hit her on the right side," Arnold said the night of the collision. "The train was completely in front of the van when she drove into it."

Arnold said the intersection is used so infrequently that CSX trains stop, and crews verify the safety gate is fully closed and intersection is clear before passing through.

Brake failure has been ruled out, Arnold said, and there's no evidence, such as skid marks, that might indicate Ashley had tried to avoid crashing into the train.

"We plan to meet with the (Butler County) Prosecutor's Office later this week or early next week and should know then what the next steps will be," Arnold told the Journal-News.

Journal-News Reporter Ed Richter contributed.