The News Herald


By: Dino DiSanto-Staff Writer

Five years ago, Dennis and Vicky Moore lost their 16-year-old son, Ryan, when a Conrail locomotive struck the car in which he was traveling at a gateless grade crossing on the border of Stark and Wayne counties.

Since then, the couple, through their Canal Fulton-based Angels on Track Foundation, have dedicated their lives to helping other victims and counties prioritize dangerous grade crossings that need ages and lights.

The pair presented their case Tuesday to Lake County commissioners about forming a task force to start identifying such crossings.

"We don't want you to pick two or three crossings," Vicky Moore said. "This is not a quick fix. We want all of the crossings identified."

Commission President Daniel P. Troy said the county is serious about forming the committee, not only for prioritizing crossings, but also to educate the public.

The Moores got the idea for the foundation after they sued the former Philadelphia-based railroad company in civil court and won a judgment of $7 million. After paying legal fees, the remaining $5.4 million went to forming The Angels on Track Foundation.

"How can you take a personal gain from losing your son?" Dennis Moore said of the cash won in court. We thought the money was best used to help others from this happening to them."

The money will help countywide task forces obtain funding for gates crossings.

The Moores cite the high cost of building gates-from $90,000 to $250,000 a site-as the reason for helping out with as much as 30 percent, or $40,000, toward the projects.

It isn't known if the foundation's money would be needed to improve safety at Lake County grade crossings.

U.s. Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, R-Madison Village, obtained $9 million for grade crossing improvements from Vermillion to Conneaut in 1998.

This almost ensured that every major grade crossing without a gate would have one by the end of 1999.

LaTourette's office is still checking to see if that timeline was met.

The funding was part of an agreement between CSX and Norfolk Southern so the U.S. Surface Transportation Board to approve the split of Conrail between the two railroad companies. Both Virginia-based companies operate trains through Northeast Ohio.

Since 1990, there have been eight fatalities at grade crossings in Lake County.

The latest occurred in November at the Main Street grade crossing in Perry Village, where a project had just been started to install a gate.

Before the gate was up and functioning, Perry Village Sgt. Phillip Reed and his wife, Susanne, lost their lives.

This was the second such accident in Perry Village. In 1998, Jennifer Garry a teen-ager at Perry High School, was killed at the Maple Road grade crossing-about 1,500 feet west of the Main Street crossing.

Dan Garry, Jennifer's father, hopes the committee will not only concentrate on getting gates at each intersection, but also educating the community.

"Half the community lives on one side of the tracks and the other on the other side." Garry said.

"I think we just get so used to going over the tracks that we don't think how dangerous those crossings are."


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