Train crash injures woman week before crossing upgrades activated

A train struck a car at the Tracy Road railroad crossing, sending a Whiteland woman to the hospital.

The Whiteland Police Department responded to the crash about 11 p.m. Wednesday. The driver, 24-year-old Katerina Hockersmith, was trapped inside her vehicle, but responsive, after the CSX train, part of the Louisville and Indiana railroad line, hit her car on the front passenger side, according to an accident report.

She told police she did not have time to stop, and before she knew it, the train had hit her car, the report said. She was transported to IU Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis with non-life-threatening injuries to her lower leg and foot, according to the report.

More than a year ago, 20-year-old Shauna Synesael died when her car was struck by a train at the same railroad crossing, which previously had a stop sign and no caution lights to signal when a train was coming.

Lights have been installed at the crossing, but have not yet been activated.

Earlier this year, Johnson County’s municipalities entered into an interlocal agreement to update crossings in every local community. The county received $3.4 million in federal grants from the Highway Safety Improvement Program to cover most of the costs to improve the crossings.

Those improvements are underway. In fact, the new signal structures are up at Tracy Road, but have not been turned on, as crews are still working on the electrical components, said Norm Gabehart, Whiteland town manager. The new crossing signals will likely be turned on next week, he said.

“Once the new crossing is up, it’s still imperative that the public stop,” Gabehart said.