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Five Teens Killed When Driver Ignored Railroad Crossing Gate

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Canton Township, MIfive teenagers were killed by an Amtrak train while travelling in a car on Thursday after the driver, 19-year-old Dan Broughton, sped around a lowered railroad crossing gate to attempt beating the train. Broughton had his license suspended the day before the accident for driving without carrying a license back in April of this year. Furthermore, he had a history of traffic violations on his record, including speeding and running a stop sign.

The surveillance video released by police revealed that Broughton’s car never slowed down as it came towards the lowered gate, and instead he proceeded past a stopped SUV. The train barreled through at about 67 mph around 12:30 p.m., broadsiding the car as Broughton attempted to cross the tracks. The car was crumpled underneath of the front of the train and ended up right-side up with its roof and front crushed.

Friends, family and community members are stunned and questioning why Broughton would assume it was safe to try to cross the tracks. Drugs and alcohol do not seem to be involved. Other than Dan Broughton, 19, the four other teenagers that were killed included Eddie Gross, 17, Sean Harris, 19, Terrence Harris, 21, and Jessica Sadler, 14. The train also contained approximately 170 people, but none of the passengers were injured.

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  1. Bob Comer says:
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    What Broughton did was a very serious crime—he basically murdered 4 friends. However, technically, he didn’t “try to beat the train” because the video clearly shows he never saw it. The crossing has thick sight obstructions on the SE quadrant—lots of trees. The train came from his right and hit the passenger side of his car. We will never know why Broughton decided to drive around the stopped white SUV. Maybe in those few seconds, he was “showing off” to his 4 young passengers. His driving record indicates a very reckless and dangerous person behind the wheel. But let’s get this right—-you have to see a train coming in order to “try to beat it.” What he did was totally ignore the warning devices and the train showed up just as his car was on the near track. Operation Lifesaver, owned and operated by the railroad industry, constantly claims drivers “try to beat the train.” Some do, but a lot never see what hits them because the crossing geometry made it impossible to see an approaching train. The driver either thought there was no train or that the warning devices didn’t mean STOP. In my 20 years of experience investigating RR crossing crashes, I have found most drivers who got hit didn’t realize just how dangerous the situation was. WANT PROOF? Go out to a crossing with a lot of train traffic, such as Hannan Rd., sit in a safe place and watch driver behavior. Most drivers (1) do not slow down (2) don’t turn their heads to look both ways and (3) generally act as if there is no RR crossing there. That begs the question: Why didn’t they get trained to treat RR crossings as extremely dangerous places when they were learning to drive? OR, do we have a country full of idiots behind the wheel? I have no quarrel with OL’s, “Look, Listen and Live” slogan, but the fact that they totally ignore RR negligence, I.E.,failure to sound the horn, failing to promptly repair malfunctioning Track Circuits and the continued use of the 1872 Track Circuit to turn on RR crossing warning devices (fails a lot), proves to me that they are one-sided and grossly biased.