Two Train Wrecks Claim Three Lives

Tuesday, February 19th 2008, 11:46 am
By: News On 6

Monday proves a deadly day on the tracks.  Three people were killed in two separate collisions in Muskogee and McIntosh Counties.  The News On 6's Chris Wright reports both involved Union Pacific Railroad.

A Fort Gibson man was killed after authorities say he tried to cross the tracks in front of a train.  Later, two teens died when their car was hit.  Authorities say both incidents serve as deadly reminders to be careful near a crossing.

A day after Joshua Ertle was killed at this crossing in Eufaula; Jackie Putman laid out a makeshift memorial for his friend.

"He was fun, outgoing.  He didn't care who you was he'd talk to you.  He'd like to have fun," said Jackie Putman.

Roff 18-year-old Jennifer Gordy was also in the car.  Authorities say the teenagers had tried to go around the crossing guards.  Oscar Davis witnessed the accident.  As if that were not bad enough, he says he knows Jennifer's family.

"It's a sad situation because I knew the father, mother and the grandfather.  My heart goes out to them.  This is tragic for the town really," said Oscar Davis.

The Eufaula accident, which happened shortly after 3:30 on Tuesday afternoon ended a deadly day for Union Pacific.

At 10:30 a.m., another freight train struck 29-year-old Jason Checotah.  Authorities say he tried to beat the train by running across an intersection.

Union Pacific railroad has installed a small video camera, mounted inside the locomotive cab on one of Union Pacific's more than 6,000 over-the-road locomotives.  The camera looks down the track providing the train crew's point of view and has become a valuable tool in assisting with the investigations of pedestrian or grade-crossing incidents.  This video link was provided to The News On 6 by Union Pacific Railroad.