The Bartholomew County Coroner’s office has identified a driver who died when her vehicle was hit by a train near Indianapolis Road and Long Road at 5:09 p.m. Monday.
Iris Marie Castellano, 26, of Columbus, was pronounced dead at the scene after first responders arrived at the stopped southbound train located just north of Columbus.
The initial investigation indicates the train was heading south on the Louisville & Indiana tracks that run along the east side of Indianapolis Road, and Castellano’s Ford Explorer was westbound on Long Road, said Bartholomew County Deputy Coroner Jay Frederick.
The crossing where the accident happened does not have flashing lights or a gate to indicate when a train is approaching, but the lack of lights and gates is noted on a yellow highway sign on the Indianapolis Road side of the tracks. Vehicles approaching the tracks from Long Road, which is a westbound approach, have a stop sign before crossing the tracks, investigators said.
Over the past few years, Columbus officials have warned community residents about increased train traffic on the Louisville & Indiana tracks, which have been leased to CSX for high speed rail.
One of the main cautions officials have given is that trains are now traveling northbound and southbound on the tracks between Louisville and Indianapolis, and are allowed to travel at higher speeds. Many area residents are not accustomed to the idea of the tracks being used for southbound train traffic.
Monday’s crash is being investigated by Columbus Police Department with assistance from an accident reconstructionist team made up of CPD officers, the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Office and the Indiana State Police.
Monday’s accident was the second train fatality in two days in Bartholomew County.
On Sunday, 29-year-old Dylan Lonaker, Columbus, was struck by a northbound train while walking north on tracks north of Deaver Road along State Road 11.
Sheriff Matt Myers said investigators are waiting for video from the train before releasing more information about Sunday’s accident.
Louisville & Indiana Railroad officials notified Columbus and Bartholomew County that longer, heavier and faster CSX trains are traveling through Columbus and Bartholomew County on L&I’s rail system. Louisville & Indiana Railroad and CSX Transportation won approval in April 2015 from the federal Surface Transportation Board to use L&I’s 106-mile mainline between Louisville and Indianapolis jointly and upgrade it to high-speed rail. Columbus and community partners built an overpass over the State Road 46 and State Road 11 intersection due to the increased train traffic predicted by the railroads when going to high speed rail.