1 dead, 10 injured as church van hits train in Ohio
Cincinnati — A van carrying vacation Bible school students crashed through a crossing gate into the side of a freight train at a southwest Ohio rail crossing, killing an adult passenger and injuring nine children and the driver, authorities said Wednesday.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol said the gates were down and the warning lights activated at the crossing in the city of Middletown when the van approached it Tuesday evening. Investigators were trying to determine why the driver kept going and crashed the 2002 Ford passenger van into the CSX train.
The van was taking students to evening vacation Bible school at the Church at Mayfield in Middletown, some 30 miles north of Cincinnati.
The patrol said the front-seat passenger, 62-year-old Jan Martin, died at Atrium Medical Center in Middletown nearly two hours after the crash. Police said nine children, ranging in age from 7 to 10 years old, and the female driver, also 62, suffered injuries that aren’t considered life-threatening. They were taken to hospitals.
“As far as I understand, everyone is doing as well as can be expected,” the Rev. Gary Ashley told The Associated Press on Wednesday. He was at Atrium Medical Center where his wife, Judith Ashley, the van’s driver, remained hospitalized. He said she had multiple injuries and he hadn’t been able to talk with her yet.
Jacksonville, Florida-based CSX said in a statement that the company is cooperating with the investigation. Spokeswoman Melanie Cost said the train had come from the Middletown Yard that regularly serves the area.
“Our thoughts are with everyone affected by the accident in Middletown,” Cost said in an email, referring other questions to the Highway Patrol. The patrol said its investigation was continuing.
A statement on the small nondenominational church’s Facebook page announced plans for a prayer vigil Wednesday evening. It said the church lost a member of its family.
“Jan will be sorely missed because she was loved by all,” the statement said. “She has gone home to be with her Lord, and left this world doing what she loved, serving Him.”
Ashley said vacation Bible school planned for the rest of the week has been canceled.
“We just stopped right there,” he said. “There’s just too much going on. We can’t go on with it.”