Police often called to deadly train crossing for possible malfunctions

Police: Driver drove around crossing arms
Posted at 1:48 AM, Sep 09, 2016

WEST CHESTER TWP., Ohio - Over the last two years, police have responded 19 times to the train crossing where a driver was killed last month. 

The crossing has a history of the arms being down without an oncoming train and drivers going around it, according to West Chester police reports.

That was partly the case on Aug. 23. 

"The railroad crossing arms were down. He drove around them," said Officer Mark York.

As he did, the oncoming train struck and killed 70-year-old Rakan Shteiwi of Liberty Township, police said.

"We have a video from the train itself which shows Unit No. 1 -  his vehicle - going left of center around the cross arm into the opposite lane of traffic and crossing the railroad tracks at the time of impact," York said.

But on a number of occasions the arms were down and no train was coming. Here are two reports from West Chester police:

Report No. 1:  "School bus stuck at the crossing and complainant wants to know if an officer can escort the bus around the tracks."

Report No. 2:  A train triggered the arms but stopped before the intersection. The report says "vehicles starting to go around the gates."

"Any time that someone contacts us and lets us know that the crossing arms are down and they believe there is not a train in the area, we will respond and we will assess whether or not it needs service and we will contact Norfolk Southern," said York.

"Any time there is a question about that we want to make sure that it gets addressed," said Norfolk Southern spokesman David Pidgeon,

Pidgeon didn't comment on the number of calls but did say they respond to issues immediately.

"We get out there, we test and we make sure the crossing gates are working as they should, but I also want to emphasize that even if the crossing gates are down and a driver thinks that a train is not coming, it is never a good idea to go around the crossing gates," Pidgeon said.

Police and the railroad implore drivers to take the warnings seriously and always assume a train is coming. If there is a malfunction with the arms, call police and the railroad right away.