The Tribune


By: Barbara Vendeville

Kent - Vicky Moore, founder and trustee of The Angels on Track Foundation, spoke in front of an audience of l, 000 Kent State University students and faculty members at an annual college fundraiser called Songfest.

Her foundation would benefit in the more than $5,000 proceeds raised that evening by the 22 Greek sorority and fraternity chapters at KSU.

On Saturday, March 25, 1995, Vicky and Dennis Moore's son Ryan, his brother and four of their friends were riding in a car, which was hit by a Conrail freight train traveling approximately 60 mph. Three survived despite serious injuries, but three others including Ryan Moore were killed instantly.

The crossing did not have a gate or flashing lights.

Moore stated that Deerfield Avenue, located on the Stark/Wayne border had been the scene of eight deaths in seven collisions since 1975.

"Our son, Ryan, was killed at an unprotected railroad crossing, crossbuck only. Had there been gates and lights there that day the accident would never had happened," said Moore.

"Currently Ohio has 80 counties with active rail lines. Only half of Ohio's railroad grade crossings have gates and lights, meaning approximately 3,000 are marked by a cross buck only, which is only an informational sign·it only tells you a crossing is ahead it doesn't tell you a train is coming or protect you." said Moore.

As a result of their son's death, Vicky and Dennis Moore established The Angels on Track Foundation with monies awarded to them as a result of a civil trial.

The Moores established the foundation after realizing the lack of funding and red tape local communities faced trying to upgrade railroad grade crossings with safety equipment. They used the money to correct the problem; they feel contributed to the death of their son.

The foundation is hoping to make a difference by providing the financial backing needed to improve railroad-crossing safety throughout Ohio and to educate local highway authorities on the various programs available through state and federal funding.

"Counties and local highway authorities do not consider railroad grade crossing safety a priority until someone is killed or injured," Moore said. "They do not budget funds for safety upgrades and usually wait for the state, using the Federal Funded Program, to come in and erect safety devices where there is no local match and 100 percent of the cost is covered with federal tax dollars and contributions from the railroads."

"Contributions are then reimbursed to the railroad companies. Each state is required to have a prioritization listing of all grade crossings to receive federal money for grade crossing upgrades. There is an accident formula which is used: number of trains, speed of trains, vehicle traffic counts, number of tracks and how many people have been killed or injured."

Moore said that was the method used to upgrade the crossing where her son was killed, with gates and lights under the Federal Funded Program.

"Even though eight people lost their lives at that crossing in a period of seven years, four of those in a period of three months. January, 1995-one man killed; March 17, 1995-two people ran into the side of the train and March 25, 1995-my son and two of his friends were killed, gates and lights were installed eight months after our accident and one year after the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio order," she said.

"In Ohio, after the PUCO issues an order to the railroad company to install safety devices, it takes one year before completion. Senator Mike DeWine passed a law reducing the time for installation in Ohio. In other states it can take as long as two to three years."

The foundation goal is to set up county task forces, which would work with The Angels on Track Foundation in all 88 counties of Ohio. Currently there are 20 established in the state.

"A lot of what our foundation is trying to do is educate the public on railroad safety issues, in particular, existing hazards at unprotected crossings, and what factors, besides driver's error, cause these preventable accidents. Our government officials responsible for public safety at railroad grade crossings have been complacent, even though every 90 minutes there is a train-on-motor accident/incident in the United States," said Moore.

"We wanted to do something about it. Most are depending on the state to identify and fund dangerous crossings. That is why we started the task forces."

The purpose of the county task forces would be to identify and prioritize all crossings for possible upgrades, thus qualifying for reimbursement grants from the foundation to subsidize the construction costs on installing gates and flashing lights up to 30 percent of the local match not to exceed $40,000 for each project, for five upgrades each calendar year.

The average cost for installation of gates and lights at a grade crossing is estimated to be $90,000 to $200,000.

Last year, Moore met with Lake County Commissioners and other local officials to convince them of the need for a task force in Lake County.

Moore said that in order for a county to receive a reimbursement grant from the foundation, the county has to establish a task force.

"This also gives local communities and county the ability to upgrade a dangerous crossing before someone is killed or injured instead of waiting for the state to come in and upgrade it after it has reached the "accident formula" guidelines. Which means many people die first," said Moore.

For more information on railroad crossing safety or to send donations visit The Angels on Track Foundation website: or write 12376 Chestnut Street, N.W., Canal Fulton, Ohio 44614.

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