November 25, 2014

Elyria
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Driver charged after going around crossing gates, getting hit by train

Witnesses said a car ran into a train after going around the gates on West Ridge Road. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

Witnesses said a train ran into a car after the car went around the gates on West Ridge Road. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

ELYRIA TWP. — The vehicle of an Oberlin man suspected of using drugs was struck by a train Monday afternoon after witnesses said he drove through railroad crossing gates on West Ridge Road, authorities said.

Elyria Township firefighters put a neck brace on the 22-year-old driver whose car was hit by a train.

Elyria Township firefighters put a neck brace on Jeff Arndt, whose car was hit by a train after he drove around the gates.

Jeff Arndt, 22, was charged with operating a vehicle under the influence, refusal of a BAC test, driving under an OVI suspension and failure to obey a railroad crossing signal after the collision, which occurred shortly after 1 p.m.

Jeff Lewis, of Lorain, said he watched the locomotive clip the 1998 Honda Civic, which he said was speeding southbound through the train crossing as it was coming down the tracks. The vehicle was pushed off the tracks and struck the south side crossing gate assembly before coming to rest off the roadway, according to the Elyria post of the Ohio Highway Patrol.

“The crossings were down, the horn was blaring on the train, you could hear it coming, and he just went right across,” Lewis said. “The next thing you saw was just metal and plastic and everything ricochet.”

Lewis said, miraculously, the driver appeared to be OK.

“He was pretty dazed and confused, about the only thing he could say was he wanted to get out of the car and that he was late for work. I informed him, I think he was going to miss the day of work,” he said.

Arndt was taken to University Hospitals Elyria Medical Center with apparent minor injuries, according to the patrol.

Patrol Sgt. Tim Hoffman said drug use was suspected based on an officer’s observations during an interview with Arndt. Arndt has former convictions for possession of drug paraphernalia, underage consumption and operating a vehicle under the influence, according to court records.

The train

The train was stopped for several hours while repairs were made.

Traffic was halted on both sides of the railroad tracks Monday, as firefighters worked to clean up pieces of the vehicle, which were strewn across the road.

The Norfolk Southern locomotive involved was able to continue on after an inspection, but the road was closed for several hours while repairs were made, according to the patrol.

Chief Photographer Bruce Bishop contributed to this report.

Contact Chelsea Miller at 329-7123 or cmiller@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @ChelseaMillerCT.


  • Arietta Sullivan

    This man’s guardian angel has to be very exhausted after this accident.I pray that he realizes that this is a wake up to go get some help.

    • Zen Grouch

      I pray the next time, the train takes his head off before he has a chance to harm or kill some innocent Joe, just trying to get to work.

      • Arietta Sullivan

        right..well,hopefully,he learned his lesson,is all i can say….

  • Thomas G. Malloy

    On his way to work loaded. His driver’s license suspended with no insurance.Now a train wreck. What a sign from God. Such a miracle he survived.
    .Maybe he will be willing to get help for his substance abuse problem?

    • Bob Sweatt

      If he hasn’t gotten help yet. Chances are he wont. But I have been wrong before.

      This kid needs some serious help.

  • Shelley Miller

    Thank God he wasn’t killed and has the opportunity to change his path!

  • Michael

    “charged with operating a vehicle under the influence, refusal of a BAC
    test, driving under an OVI suspension and failure to obey a railroad
    crossing signal after the collision”

    on and on and on and on… this 22 yr old has a drug problem (alcohol being a possibility) with a prior history and this time he thinks he’s smart enough to beat a train… good thing it wasn’t a revolver playing russian roulette because there would have been 5 rounds in the chamber.

    The blessing here isn’t only that this fool lived, but that he didn’t injure or kill anyone else.

    Time to award him the party plate so he can keep driving under suspension?

    Ohio’s DUI penalties are a farse.

  • Carrie Watson

    Well, kid, where were you off to in such a hurry? I planned to visit someone in the hospital before work, and because of your stupidity, I had to take a detour that made me late getting there. I’m glad you were charged, cuz everyone knows you don’t drive around the gates when they’re down. You’re lucky you weren’t killed or paralyzed.

  • SpaceTech

    Stupid is as stupid does…………his death would have added a couple more drops of badly needed chlorine into the gene pool.
    Try not to hurt anybody except yourself on your next adventure moron!

  • Oneday67

    The Rastifarian pullover says it all.

  • Harley1949Vet

    Next Stop > Grafton DUI / SUBSTANCE ABUSE Prison > 5 To 10 Year Sentence !