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Crews working to replace the railroad crossing near the State Road 46 and 11 interchange narrowly escaped injuries when a car crashed through their construction site early Saturday morning.
The driver, Marcello Lara-Loma, 26, of Reo Street, was originally heading south on State Road 11, according to Columbus Police Sgt. Matt Harris. Shortly after midnight, witnesses saw the motorist turn his Pontiac Grand Prix the wrong way into the yield lane at the intersection and smash through the work area.
The car fell into a three-foot drop-off where the tracks were being replaced, according to Harris.
“The scary thing was that the construction workers were moving from the south to the north, which is where the car struck,” said Harris. “It took some serious work for him to get in where the crews were.”
A number of workers watched as Lara-Loma, who was not injured, attempted to pull his car out of the temporary ditch. However, the vehicle was completely stuck inside the 12-foot wide drop-off.
Witnesses told police that as Lara-Loma tried to get his vehicle unstuck, he was continuously revving up the engine and spinning the car’s wheels. In the process, the
vehicle stirred up a considerable amount of rock and debris. As many as five railroad ties were also struck.
Since officers are assigned to the construction area, police were on the scene within moments after a member of the crew notified them of the crash.
Lara-Loma was booked into the Bartholomew County jail a few hours later on preliminary charges of operating a motor vehicle without ever receiving a license, as well as driving while intoxicated, causing endangerment. As of Sunday, he was being held in lieu of $7,500 bond.
The intersection, which carriesmore than 32,000 vehicles daily, has been closed since Friday morning to replace the crossing. It is expected to reopen to traffic later this afternoon.
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