Railroad crossing gets flashing lights after five deaths in two years

Saturday, April 7th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NOWATA, Okla. (AP) _ City officials are closing one railroad crossing in exchange for flashing lights and a crossing arm on another street, the scene of five deaths in the last two years.

Union Pacific Railroad and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation will install safety signals at the Modoc Street crossing if the city closes a crossing on Shawnee Street, Nowata City Manager Dave Neely said.

The Shawnee crossing is rarely used, while the Modoc crossing has been a safety hazard for years, he said.

Five people, four of them teen-agers, have died since 1999 while trying to cross the tracks on Modoc Street.

Three high school students were killed Nov. 28, 1999, when a Ford Mustang they were riding in collided with a Union Pacific train. Ryan Kalbrier, 17, was driving with passengers, Terry Royer, 16, and Cristel Horton, 18.

A fourth student in the car, 15-year-old John Brown, was injured and has recovered.

A month later, a friend of the teens was struck and killed by a train as he crossed the tracks on foot.

Police said the train engineer reported seeing Jamie Dale Warren, 18, when the train was about 5 feet from the crossing. The engineer blew a whistle, but Warren did not move to avoid the train, police said.

He died a few feet from a small memorial put near the tracks after his three friends died.

Two weeks ago, Inez May Tanner was killed at the crossing.

The city manager told the Tulsa World he has written to Union Pacific requesting warning lights and a crossing arm at the Modoc crossing. The department of transportation will pay 80 percent of the $130,000 cost of installation while Union Pacific will pay 20 percent, Neely said.

He said the town still needs safety signals at three crossings.

Neely expects workers to begin installing the safety equipment soon after Union Pacific receives his letter.