Wrongful death lawsuit filed two years after Brunswick teen tragedy

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ELYRIA, Ohio - Exactly two years after a tragic crash at a Boston Road railroad crossing claimed the lives of four local teenagers the parents of three of them have filed a wrongful death lawsuit.

Jeffrey Chaya, 18; Blake Bartchak, 17; Lexi Poerner, 16; and Kevin Fox, 18 were killed when a car driven by Chaya went over the railroad crossing, hit a culvert, rolled over and crashed.

Attorneys for the families of Bartchak, Poerner and Fox claim in their suit that the crossing "posed an unreasonably dangerous hazard for the travelling public..."

The suit, which was filed in Lorain County Common Pleas Court, names CSX Transportation Inc. as a defendant along wtih trustees of Columbia and Liverpool Townships, Medina and Lorain County Commissioners, and Medina and Lorain County engineers.

Attorneys for the families said the dangers posed by the crossing were well-known and documented before the crash.

"Unfortunately requests to solve this problem were denied, presumably for funding reasons and that's most unfortunate to each of the families that have suffered as a result of this incident," said attorney, Kenneth Abbarno.

"There was in fact a study commissioned related to the safety of this particular crossing, without getting too fact specific, I believe there were some discussions about upgrading the crossings or the immediate adjacent vicinity of the crossings the culverts and initially those requests were denied for lack of funding or for something to do with the funding or the funding mechanisms that were employed by the governments in these localities," said attorney, Michael Saltzer.

Attorneys said they will allow a jury to determine to what degree the design of the crossing contributed to the crash versus the fault of the driver.

"We're not saying that people are not responsible for their actions. We're not saying that people dont have some responsibility for how they conduct themselves. We are saying there was knowledge, knowledge that people in charge had, superior knowledge to the typical citizen in this community about the dangers associated with this crossing and this area and in fact there were some recommendations that were made that were never followed through," said Saltzer.

Residents closest to the tracks said at the time that the steep approach to both sides of the track contributed to numerous previous crashes.

Trustees for both Columbia and Liverpool Township told FOX 8 News on Tuesday that they had not yet seen the lawsuit and could not comment on it.

The suit seeks unspecified damages in excess of $25,000.

$450,000 of improvements were made at the site of the crossing in 2013 to help prevent similar crashes.

"I think anybody, any parent, any citizen would believe that it is important that these things are investigated and looked into and sometimes it takes something like this to bring these things out into the light of day so people can really see what happened," said Saltzer.

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