Man blames Owasso train crash on faulty railroad crossing lights
OWASSO, Okla. (KTUL) -- A man blaming faulty railroad lights for why he slammed into a train late Wednesday night is getting support from the community.
No one in town is surprised at all that the lights were off. Some say the railroad crossing is always dark.
The crash off East 76th Street North is causing concern for local businesses in Owasso.
“Trains go through there all the time, we hear them all day," said Amber Shew.
Shew is the general manger of Fishbonz bar and grill. It’s right next to the railroad crossing where a man slammed into a train on the tracks around 10 p.m. Wednesday, a crossing she says is hard to see.
“He came in from out of town, he obviously doesn’t know this road or that there’s a track there," said Shew.
The man claims the railroad lights were not blinking and the crossing bar was not down.
“There’s constantly trains moving back and forth across 76th Street. It’s very rare that a car would ever hit one but it happened in this case," said Lt. Nick Boatman, with the Owasso Police Department.
Boatman admitting when officers arrived at the scene they didn’t see any lights on either.
Whether the lights were on or off during the crash is under investigation.
“It’s not out of the realm of possibility that this guy was driving down the road and the bars weren’t across the road and he just smacked into the train," said Boatman.
Owasso native Brandie Phillips is adamant the lights have been off before.
“They’re not on a lot of times, they do a lot of work on these railroad tracks," said Phillips.
Even Thursday, hours after the crash, railroad crews were working along the tracks with the lights at times clearly on but not when they needed to be.
“It’s horrible because it could’ve been a catastrophe, luckily for him it wasn’t but it could’ve been a lot worse," said Shew.
The railroad company says there’s been a scheduled maintenance project along the tracks over the last few days but would not confirm if that’s why the lights were not on.
Whether or not the lights were on though, police are reminding drivers to slow down when you see a train on the tracks.