EUCLID, Ohio -- The FOX 8 I-Team is investigating how a local school bus full of children ended up at a railroad crossing with a gate for the crossing on top of the bus as a train roared past.
It happened Wednesday morning on Chardon Road in Euclid.
Shelley Banning saw it as she was driving her son to school. She took out her cell phone and recorded video. Banning said, "I noticed the gate was on the bus. And we were just horrified. My son said that his classmates were on that bus. I wasn't sure how close it was as that train was going so fast."
She says she immediately took the video to the school district, and she sent it to FOX 8 because she thought someone should look into it.
Euclid Schools Superintendent Dr. Charles Smialek said, "Our driver was doing everything a driver should do and is required to do by law." The superintendent points out, school buses have to stop at crossings. Drivers have to look both ways and open a door or window to listen for a train. But in this case, Dr. Smialek says to get a good view of the tracks, you have to go past where the gate is placed. As this driver stopped, the gate came down, and a train came through.
Smialek added, "Our bus was 36 feet from where that train actually came. To be behind the guardrail, they would have had to be 45 feet. Again, that wouldn't have been a safe vantage point for our driver.” The superintendent also says buses have been taking children through there to Central Middle School since 1968, and this is the first time anything like this has happened.
The I-Team checked out the crossing, and in fact, it is hard to see more than about 100 yards of the tracks if you stop where the gate is placed. If you go a few feet closer to the tracks, you can see endlessly in both directions.
We tried to talk to the bus driver, but the garage has no trespassing signs. The company he works for did not return a call. The district says he’s a veteran driver with a good record.
The district says it has reached out to the Norfolk-Southern railroad to discuss if changes should be made. The I-Team also contacted Norfolk-Southern. The company says it is responsible for the crossing gate, but local road crews are responsible for pavement markings suggesting where drivers should stop.
Shelley Banning is glad she brought this to light. She said, "I felt other parents should be aware. If my son was on that bus, I would want to know if they were so close to a train."