WHITING — Firefighters extricated a man from the front seat of a car Tuesday after it was sheared in half when it was hit by an eastbound Amtrak train carrying 104 passengers, police said.
Jeffrey M. Colovos, of Lake Village, was the second of two drivers who drove around lowered crossing gates about 4:30 p.m. at the 117th Street crossing near Whiting Lakefront Park, Police Chief Steve Miller said.
Indiana is ranked third nationally for crossing collisions in 2018, according to the Federal Railroad Administration's Office of Safety Analysis. From January to September there were 107 crashes at public railroad crossings, the report said, ranking Indiana just below California and Texas.
When it comes to fatalities, Indiana also ranks as the third highest in the nation with a total of 11 railroad crossing fatalities so far in 2018, just below California and Illinois.
Witnesses told police the first driver made it through the crossing, but Colovos' vehicle was struck, he said.
Officers arrived to find the gray 2014 Dodge Charger torn in two, with the back half of the car thrown about 50 feet east of the crossing and the front part still in the crossing. Debris was strew all along the tracks, police said.
Colovos was still seated in the driver's seat. A good Samaritan was holding his neck, police said.
Fire crews extricated Colovos from the wreckage and took him to a hospital. Miller said Wednesday morning he had not yet received any updates on Colovos' condition.
The Amtrak train was going 40 to 45 mph at the time of the crash, police said.
The train, which was traveling from Chicago to Port Huron, Michigan, via East Lansing, Michigan, was delayed for more than three hours, Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said. No one aboard the train was injured.
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The train sustained cosmetic damage, but was able to continue on to Michigan, he said.
A second train, en route from Chicago to Ann Arbor and Pontiac, Michigan, was delayed about 20 minutes, he said.
Amtrak crews have the right to seek relief at the scene. In this case, the crew sought relief, which may have been part of the reason for the delay, Magliari said.
Crashes involving trains can easily be avoided if drivers and people near railroad tracks heed the train's horn and warnings at the crossings, he said.
"This train would have gotten across the crossing probably in less than a minute," he said.
The train included a locomotive at both ends and six cars, Magliari said.
Colovos was cited for driving around the lowered crossing gates, Miller said.
A look at The Region's deadliest roads
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