At least one person died Friday morning after a Norfolk-Southern train struck a car at a crossing in New Haven.
The person who died has not been identified, and Fort Wayne Fire Department officials at the scene released no more information about the victim. Although they have searched about 80 percent of the wrecked car, officials did not rule out the possibility that another victim could be inside the wreckage. The search is more difficult because the shredded car is partially dangling from the railroad bridge over the Maumee River.
"For our guys to do an extrication out there, it's way past the limits of being safe," said Ed Lytal, chief of New Haven-Adams Township EMS. "We suspect there's always more than one person in a vehicle until we can prove otherwise."
Stacey Fleming of the Fort Wayne Fire Department said that a 7,000-foot train was headed southwest on the Norfolk-Southern track at about 7:15 a.m. when it struck a car going east across the tracks on North River Road.
The car was pushed about 100 yards, into the bridge over the river. When the train entered the bridge, the car peeled off the front of the train and was wedged around a support beam. The train continued on but managed to stop just a short distance past the bridge.
Norfolk-Southern was expected to use a railroad crane Friday to remove the car from the bridge so a search could be completed for another possible victim. The deceased person would be left in the car until it was removed, Fleming said.
According to Fleming, railroad officials initially reported the train was traveling at about 30 mph when it hit the car.
Norfolk-Southern spokesman Dave Pidgeon said he could not discuss how fast the train was going because that information would be part of an ongoing investigation. But he said the section of track where the wreck took place is rated for 60 mph train traffic.
Pidgeon also said the crossing lights and gates were working properly at the time of the crash, but he would not comment on any specifics about how the wreck occurred.
"We're going to cooperate to the best of our ability with local law enforcement," he said.
Fleming said authorities also did not know details about why the car was on the tracks even though the gates were down. Norfolk Southern and the Fort Wayne-Allen County fatal crash team would reconstruct how the wreck happened, she said.
"Anything we could say at this time would be purely speculation," she said.