Two Teenagers Die in Nowata Car-Train Crash

Monday, November 29th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Two Nowata teenagers died Sunday night after their car smashed into a train. Two other teens are critically injured in the hospital. Investigators believe the teens ran a stop sign, but the grieving families want to know if more could have been done to prevent the accident. The driver of the car, Ryan Kalbrier and Terry Royer, a backseat passenger, died in the crash. John Brown and Cristel Horton, two teens who were also passengers in the car, were critically injured. Sunday was Kalbrier’s 17th birthday.

"The train engineer indicated that the driver of the car acted like he didn't even see him," said Nowata police sergeant Brad Boyles. "The driver approached the intersection, and according to the engineer, didn't even slow down and tried to cross."

The train always has the right of way, but exactly what happened isn't as important to Debra Perry. Her son died in the crash. "He was a happy kid," said Perry. "He wasn't in trouble. He loved life. He went out and had his fun like all the rest of the kids did," she said. Royers mother and his family are angry that the train crossings aren't blocked by crossing arms, even though they are marked with cross bucks and a stop sign. "Something could have been done about it a long time ago," said Perry. "But now it takes two 16-year-olds getting killed for something to be done."

Like many small Oklahoma towns, Nowata straddles the railroad tracks. Nowata began as a railroad town and even now, trains rush through the town many times each day at forty miles an hour. The town has 10 rail crossings. Only four of the crossings are protected by crossing arms and lights.

Grief counselors were on hand to talk with students at Nowata High School to help them through the tragedy. "I think the students handled it as well as can be expected," said principal Gary Conway. ‘They were obviously upset. They showed a lot of character and maturity in the way that they were dealing with it," he said.

Funeral services for both teenagers are set for Thursday at separate times, so their friends can attend both services. Police says it's the fourth accident in three years at the intersection, but the first one resulting in fatalities.