A father and his 4-year-old daughter were making their morning commute Friday when a freight train struck their car at a crossing in Sidney and killed both of them, Kosciusko County authorities said.
It’s a very, very, sad, unfortunate, tragic circumstance, Sgt. Chad Hill said of the crash, which is believed to be an accident.
Wesley Cox, 37, and his daughter, Grace, had left their Laketon home early Friday and were heading to the North Webster home of Cox’s mother, who was to watch Grace while her father worked at a factory in Elkhart County, said Hill, a sheriff’s department spokesman.
About halfway to North Webster, Cox and his daughter were northbound on Indiana 13 in a 2008 Mazda when he pulled into the path of the eastbound Norfolk Southern train at the Sidney crossing. The train crew told investigators the Mazda came to a stop before entering the crossing, Hill said.
The 61-car train plowed into the driver’s side of the Mazda.
The car ricocheted to the north side of the tracks and took down some power lines.
Emergency crews were dispatched to the scene at 4:42 a.m., and the county coroner pronounced Cox and his daughter dead from blunt-force injuries. Hill said Cox had full custody of his daughter and that the girl’s mother lived in another county.
The crossing where the wreck occurred has safety lights and gates. Sheriff’s investigators are looking into whether those lights and gates were working at the time of the crash and whether the train’s whistle sounded before reaching the crossing.
Such information, which will come from the train’s black box, has been requested by sheriff’s investigators, and the railroad has said it will take a week or two to deliver it, Hill said.
Meanwhile, Norfolk Southern spokesman David Pidgeon said the crossing’s lights and gates were functioning at the time of the wreck and that the train’s whistle was blown beforehand.
Pidgeon said the track speed at the crossing is 60 mph. Hill said the train crew told investigators they were traveling about 47 mph when the crash happened.
The train, pulled by two locomotives, was hauling general merchandise from Elkhart to Macon, Ga., Pidgeon said.