- Associated Press - Sunday, September 27, 2015

HAMILTON, Ohio (AP) - A southwest Ohio county has been the deadliest place in the state over the last decade for fatal train accidents, according to Federal Railroad Administration data.

Butler County has led the state with 19 fatal train crashes from 2005 to June 15, the Hamilton-Middletown Journal-News reported (https://bit.ly/1MkziJU ).

Cuyahoga, Franklin, Hamilton and Erie counties rounded out the top five, according to federal data analyzed by the newspaper. The statistics don’t include train deaths involving suicides.

Butler County has been home to 20 deaths involving either pedestrians or drivers colliding with trains over the last decade. That includes a July crash in Middletown that left one person dead and injured 10 others this summer when a van carrying children to vacation bible school hit a slow-moving train.

The county is home to 121 miles of railroad tracks, most of which are condensed in certain areas such as Middletown or Oxford, which makes the likelihood for accidents higher, said Julie Kaercher, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Rail Development Commission. Those tracks are also used very frequently by train companies, she added.

“You have more trains, you’re going to have more accidents,” Kaercher said.

The state is working to curb train crashes across the state. Earlier this year, state officials began working with railroad companies on a $516,000 project to install stop signs around more than 1,000 crossings that currently only have yield signs to comply with a new state law, Kaercher said. An additional 900 crossings were exempt from the law for traffic reasons and will continue to operate with only yield signs.

“The expectation is that people will treat this like a normal stop sign, they will stop and give a pause at a railroad,” Kaercher said, adding that the move will hopefully prevent accidents in the future.

Fourteen crossings in Butler County will get new stop signs, including three crossings in rural Hanover Township.

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Information from: The JournalNews of Hamilton, https://www.journal-news.com/cgi-bin/liveique.acgi$sch=jnfront?jnfront


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