Morning Journal

Katie Gallagher – Writer


Lorain – Although the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio says that the number of crashes at railroad crossings has declined by 66 percent and the number of fatalities has decreased by 77 percent since 1990, not everyone feels enough is being done to ensure safety.

Vicky Moore understands the importance of gates at crossings. Moore lost her 16-year-old son Ryan after he was killed in a car passing over a train crossing that didn’t have lights or gates.

Moore is now the director of Angels on Track, a nonprofit organization she and her husband, Dennis, established to draw attention to the need for safety devices at crossings. The foundation was set up with the $8 million – minus attorney's fees – the Moores were awarded in a civil trial for Ryan’s death.

Moore explained that the money meant nothing to her or her husband, but they wanted to use it for something good.

“The goals of our foundation is to encourage state officials to push for the installation of gates because they save lives," Moore said.

The Moores educated themselves for eight years on railroad safety. She quit her job as the director of a senior center in order to work full-time on the foundation.

“I never get away from it, nor do I want to,” Moore said.

Moore said their goal is to supply funding support for five upgrades each calendar year. The foundation will provide up to 30 percent of a local match – not to exceed $40,000 for each project.

“I’m not just a grieving mom,” Moore said. “I’m someone who knows what causes these accidents.”

Angels on Track also strives to set up railroad safety task forces in each county in the state. Presentations have been made to many counties including Lorain and Erie, but no further action has been taken in either county, according to county representatives.

Huron County has had a railroad safety task force in place since 1999. Since that time, the county has done a lot to improve railroad crossings according to Bill Ommert, director of the Huron County Emergency Management Agency.

Ommert said that working with Angels on Track, PUCO and the railroad companies CSX and Wheeling & Lake Erie, has enabled the task force to install 12 sets of lights and gates.

Working on overpasses and underpasses and clearing brush near crossings to give a clear view of the tracks have been some of the other efforts of the task force.

“I know one thing for sure,” Ommert said. “We have saved someone’s life in Huron County.”


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