November 26, 2014

Elyria
Cloudy
32°F
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Crash survivor’s condition better

Investigation of fatal train crash continues as man remains in hospital

HUNTINGTON TWP. — The condition is improving for the sole survivor of a car-train crash Saturday that killed 18-year-old Amanda White of New London.
Todd Denes, 25, of Baker Road in Wellington, improved from critical to serious condition Sunday, according to a nursing supervisor at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland.
Denes was a passenger in a car driven by White, of Gore Orphanage Road in New London, who was pronounced dead at the scene.
The investigating officer, State Highway Patrol Trooper Lance Deshuk, said that the Patrol plans to speak to Denes when his condition improves.
“We’d like to know what happened,” Deshuk said.
Denes may be the only witness to the crash.
The engineer and another train operator said they did not see anything, according to the Patrol.
One witness told The Chronicle on Saturday that he saw the car go down the road “pretty fast.” He then heard a crunching sound and the wheels of the train locking up.
Bauer-Laubenthal Funeral Home in Elyria is handling arrangements for White’s funeral. One of White’s relatives said her family was unable to discuss the accident Sunday.
Sgt. Paul March of the Patrol said every railroad crossing can be dangerous, but the Baker Road crossing is particularly precarious.
“That area is bad in that the wooded area is so heavy and thick you literally can’t see an approaching train until you pull up to the stop sign,” March said.
It is unknown whether White stopped before crossing the tracks, the troopers said.
There were no skid marks at the crossing, but all that tells the Patrol is that White “didn’t apply her brake abruptly,” according to March.
Stop signs are posted on both sides of the Baker Road railroad crossing, as well as crossing signs painted on the pavement. However, there are no flashing lights or crossing gates to warn cars of passing trains.
The impact of the train hit right on the driver’s door, according to March.
Wellington firefighters and Highway Patrol troopers responded at about 6:30 p.m. to the crash at the Baker Road railroad crossing south of Stewart Road between state Routes 58 and 511.
Hydraulic devices were used to pull Denes from the 1997 Ford Escort and work crews had to use a front-end loader to remove the car from the front of the train.
Contact Cindy Leise at 329-7197 or cleise@chroniclet.com.