Touched By "Angels"
Local Foundation making 'impactful' film


October 5-11, 2000

By: Shane Riggs, News Editor

CANAL FULTON - Vicki Moore's knowledge about the movies was - up until recently - like anyone else with a passive interest in the film industry. She had seen her share of movies but had never dreamed - up until recently - that she would end up producing one.

Moore and her husband, Denny, head the "Angels on Track" foundation, a non profit organization that has dedicated itself not only to railroad crossing education but in implementing changes for safer crossings.

On March 25, 1995, the Moore's son, Ryan, 16, was killed along with two other friends his same age - Joshua White and Alyson Ley.

Last week, the foundation teamed with a local video production company and started collecting footage for a dramatic education film.

"The foundation is paying for this as part of our commitment to education," said Vicki Moore. "We ultimately want to make this available to schools as part of a complete education program. I want to develop an entire program around this video. I want Denny and I to talk to the students at an assembly where the film can be shown."

Moore said this video will not be the typical safety film shown in the 1970's and 1980's via a film strip. This production will tell a fictional dramatic story.

"This is going to be like a movie with a great surprise ending," she said. "This won't be just a film with someone pointing
to a chalkboard at statistics."

Moore was inspired to seek out a production company and make a film when she saw what had been done in Perry Township with the drunk driving awareness films.

"I had seen an article in the newspaper about Perry's video and I contacted them to see how they did it," she said. "I contacted a local production company then and gave them my idea and they worked on that idea and came up with this story."

The company the foundation hired was StoneKap Productions, based in Canton.

Production company owner, Chad Kapper, was enthusiastic about the project from the moment the idea was proposed.

"Vicki came to us and wanted to do a video and that's what we do," said Kapper. "We do a lot of corporate work and we thought she wanted us at first to do an instructional thing but she said she actually wanted something creative that told a narrative."

The film crew - along with its cast of professional actors - filmed on location throughout Stark County last weekend. They shot footage inside the Massillon Municipal Courthouse, at the Massillon/St. Ignatius football game, and other typical establishments commonly frequented by younger people.
Kapper recruited some friends and associates who work in the arena of professional script and television writing to assist in the making of the film.

"We have brought in some good people to work on this," he said. "We are donating a lot of time and resources because this is for such a good cause."

Kapper said he and Moore worked on a storyline together.

"We have a parallel story line," he said. "We start out with a jury deliberating a car and train collision case and talking about the case and we go back in time and tell the story of the kids. We actually see the accident. You will see the outcome of the case. It's not going to be your standard cookie-cutter afterschool special."

Kapper said Moore was adamant that the story be inspired by real life events but not based on them. He said her goal of this project was the impact. Moore did not want to put her true story on celluloid for all time.

"There will be similarities but we did not construct the script to parallel her life," he said. "We are conveying the same message but using a different story. Vicky made it very clear to us that she did not want this to be her story. She didn't want to be in the spotlight."

Moore said the production will tell a unique story that has never been told to her estimation - the story of those left behind to deal with a fatal train and car collision.

"The other side of the story has to be told," she said. "That is the driver's side of the story and the family's side of the story. Denny and I have this concern that the driver is not always the cause and there are things that cause train and car collisions. We will show a real story with this film along with presenting facts and figures. We will plant a seed. We want to do this right. We want to reach our audience."

The Moores say they want the people who see the finished product to think twice about railroad safety.

The crossing that claimed the life of Moore's son and his friends had been the site of eight deaths since 1975. The last fatal accident before the crash that took the life of the three motoring friends had only been two months prior.

After a successful lawsuit against Conrail, the Moores used the settlement to found the Angels on Track Foundation.

"We didn't sue for money," Vicky said. "We never wanted the money. Once we saw the crossing, we knew what we wanted to do if we won a settlement. We wanted to correct the problem. We knew what we wanted to do from day one."

With all the proceeds from a $7 million settlement - less attorney, court, legal fees and taxes - the Moores began the first local foundation dedicated to railroad safety.

The Moores have been instrumental in helping found a railroad safety task force in that county as well as one in Stark County.

The couple has testified before Congress and has met with other families who have been victimized by car/train collisions to lend their support.

In November of 1999, the Moore's foundation hosted a consortium in Belden Village of similar foundations and safety organizations in the nation and a national chapter - The National RailRoad Safety Coalition Foundation - was developed.

The Angels on Track Foundation is established today to provide local reimbursement grants for railway improvements.

Ohio ranks as the sixth worst state in the nation for railroad crossing accidents. Among counties, Stark County is ranked first in auto to train collisions.

Before it was repaired - eight months after their son's death - the Deerfield crossing was reportedly ranked the most dangerous unmarked crossing in the state. It had been earmarked for a crossing in November, 1994 - four months before the fatal collision and yet the improvements were not done, reportedly, because of the lack of local matching dollars for funding.


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