Train collides with box truck near Edinburgh

A train collided with a box truck Wednesday on County Road 650 South, east of U.S. 31, in southern Johnson County.

At 8:26 a.m., the driver of the box truck, Jacob Adam Murdick, 24, of Middletown, ran a stop sign in an attempt to beat the train, but failed. The northbound train struck the back of the box truck, which was traveling west, according to a news release from the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office.

Murdick was transported to St. Francis Hospital by ambulance after he complained of pain, the news release said. He was still being treated at the hospital Wednesday afternoon, said Joe Stuteville, a hospital spokesperson.

The road was completely closed to traffic for a couple hours Wednesday morning, sheriff Duane Burgess said.

Train crashes occur yearly in Johnson County, and city, town and county officials are on a mission to update nearly every railroad crossing in the county to include crossing arms and flashing lights that would conclude a years-long effort to keep motorists safe by clearly warning them when a train is on its way. City and town officials have long argued that the upgrades were needed after faster trains began to roll through the county more frequently in recent years.

In March 2019, 20 year-old Shauna Brooklynn Synesael died when the car she was driving was hit by a train at the Tracy Road crossing in New Whiteland. A month later, a train struck a gasoline tanker in April 2019 on Earlywood Drive in Franklin. No one was injured, but the crash blocked traffic for hours.

Three vehicles were involved in accidents with trains in a 12-hour time span in 2018 in Greenwood.

The agreement for the Johnson County Rail Corridor Safety Improvement project aligns the communities so they are eligible for a federal grant from the Highway Safety Improvement Program, which is slated to pay 90% of the cost. Grant money will cover about $3.4 million, while communities are paying $348,453.51 collectively, or 10% of the total cost, according to the agreement.

In 2017, railroad companies made upgrades to the tracks in Johnson County, with tracks running on a north-south corridor and affecting nearly every community in the county. The upgrades that were made allowed the trains that run through the county to go faster.

The rail upgrade allowed freight company CSX Corp. to run an additional 10 or more trains a day on the line, with more cars, more weight and at speeds up to 49 mph. The line runs east of U.S. 31 in Johnson County and through Greenwood, Whiteland, Franklin and Edinburgh.

Part of the push to upgrade the crossings comes from the number of accidents that have involved trains and motorists.

The sheriff’s office, Indiana State Police, Edinburgh Fire Department and Seals Ambulance Service responded to crash Wednesday. State police are investigating, the news release said.