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Driver hit, killed by train near Wyoming border

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Courtesy of the Summit County Sheriff's Office
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A Pennsylvania man was killed this weekend after the car he was driving was hit by a train in far northeastern Summit County.

A 2-mile long freight train hit a car on Saturday night, according to a report from the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, killing the driver and sole occupant, a 47-year-old Pennsylvania man.

Sheriff’s Lt. Andrew Wright said deputies got the call shortly after 11:30 p.m. Saturday. The accident happened about 700 feet west of the Wyoming border. Wright said the conductor of the eastbound train saw a vehicle’s tail lights, but didn’t think the car was on the tracks.

“As they got closer to where they could actually see the vehicle itself, they realized the vehicle was on the tracks,” Wright said. “They initiated their emergency brake system, which you can imagine on a 2-mile long train, that still takes a significant amount of time for a train that long to come to a stop.”

Wright said the driver was traveling with a companion from California to Maine. They stopped for a night in Las Vegas and the second night was to be spent in Evanston, Wyoming.

The companion was at a hotel in Evanston when deputies reached her after the crash. Wright said she told deputies she’d seen the rental car the man was driving at a bar, and that the man told her he was going to find alcohol.

“The individual's phone that was in the car had — the GPS was talking and taking him to a specific location,” Wright said. “And so, for whatever reason, it seems like the GPS got him on this side road that got him onto the train tracks.”

Wright said the GPS had been programmed to bring the driver to a business that sold alcohol.

That area of track is known to have occasional vehicle traffic, Wright said, and trains limit their speed there to 30 mph. He did not know how long it took the 11,000-foot train to stop.