November 28, 2014

Elyria
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80-year-old driver slams into train

ELYRIA —An 80-year-old Elyria man was critically injured after driving his car into an oncoming train Monday morning in Elyria.
John Siwierka, 80, of Elyria, was driving his 1999 Oldsmobile 88 south on Huron Street around 11 a.m. when he failed to yield to an oncoming CSX train and crashed into the side of its lead engine, according to Elyria police Lt. Andy Eichenlaub.
Siwierka was conscious and transported by ambulance to EMH Regional Medical Center in Elyria. He later was flown by helicopter to Metro Health Medical Center in Cleveland, where a hospital spokeswoman said he was listed in critical condition Monday evening.
Eichenlaub said while the crash is still under investigation, it appeared as though Siwierka wasn’t paying attention when he drove through the flashing warning lights at the railroad crossing. The lights were the only warning devices installed at the crossing.
Lawrence Gornall, a 39-year-old train enthusiast from Lorain, was filming the train as it passed and was surprised to see it screech to a halt.
He said while he was looking to film a freshly repainted caboose for his video collection, he suddenly became one of the first people to respond to the crash.
“I barely heard it, but the front end (of the car) was completely smashed and had been spun around,” he said. “(Siwierka) was a little dazed, and appeared to be shaking from shock, but I thought he was OK. It all happened so fast.”
Eichenlaub said there were no signs that drugs or alcohol played a role in the crash, and police believe Siwierka’s vehicle was traveling within the posted speed limit.
Damage estimates for the train and the car were unavailable Monday.
Contact Stephen Szucs at 329-7129 or sszucs@chroniclet.com.

060507crash.jpgbruce bishop / chronicle
LifeCare paramedics and Elyria firefighters get the elderly man who drove into a train ready for transport to EMH Regional Medical Center.
See video of the crash scene