Driver struck by train identified

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A man who police say was running late for work Thursday morning tried to get around a train crossing in Salem and was hit by a train.

According to Salem police, a man driving a teal Chevrolet Cavalier tried to get around a stopped car and railroad gates at Allen Road near state Route 14 and his car was struck by the oncoming train.

“One car already stopped at the crossing, gates were down and lights were flashing. He disregarded all that and drove around the gates,” said Lt. Donald Beeson. “He almost got across the tracks when the train hit the left rear corner of the vehicle.”

The driver, Craig Heilman, 32, of Alliance, suffered what appeared to be minor injuries and was taken to Salem Community Hospital.

The tracks on Allen Road see a lot of heavy traffic, especially in the morning as many motorists are traveling to work at a plant on the other side of the crossing.

The Angels on the Tracks Foundation monitors crossings across the state. The organization’s founder, Vicky Moore, lost her son at a railroad crossing near the Stark and Wayne County border. That crossing had only a crossing buck, which is a sign with the words “railroad crossing” written on it. The crossing did not have a gate or lights.

“Our foundation never condones going around downed gates,” Moore said. “You’re always supposed to proceed with extra caution and always expect a train.”

Moore said it is not always the driver’s fault when there is a collision. Any crossing can pose a threat. Sometimes there are sight obstructions, blocked crossings, or signals that are not functioning properly. Moore urges anyone to report any malfunction or hazard on their website.

Heilman will be cited for disregarding the crossing.

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