The December 29th tragic triple fatal crash took the lives of Oregon residents, and highlighted a growing issue with railroad crossing safety.

According to Oregon State Patrol and Union County, OR officials, a Union Pacific freight train was east bound in Union County, near Union OR and approaching a crossing near Curtis Road and Miller Lane.

Oregon triple fatal car vs. train (Oregon State Patrol)
Oregon triple fatal car vs. train (Oregon State Patrol)

Around 2:54pm, a Jeep Cherokee was carrying 43-year-old Clayton Forrest Colpitts, 40-year-old Penny Jo Colpitts both of Union, and 20-year-old James Austin Johnson of Chiloquin, OR.  The vehicle was traveling the same direction of the train, but abruptly turned at an intersection to cross the tracks and was struck by the locomotive. The vehicle was knocked well away from the road, and the occupants ejected and pronounced dead at the scene.

It is not known who was driving at the time.  The railroad crossing was marked with flashing lights, but was not equipped with crossing guards.  Many transportation officials say railroad safety has become a growing concern especially in rural areas.

While the vehicle traffic may not seem to merit crossing guards at railroad intersections,  the number of car-train accidents in such areas is growing across the nation.

The investigation is still ongoing, officials did not speculate if whoever was driving didn't see the flashing lights at the crossing.

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