Garfield Heights police and driver speak out about two train crashes overnight

Posted at 9:28 PM, May 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-05 21:29:47-04

Garfield Heights police responded to two train and car collisions overnight, citing the drivers to be at fault for driving through the tracks, which were closed off to traffic.

However, the driver in one of the accidents is claiming otherwise. 

Donald Powell, of Cleveland, said he was driving on McCraken Road in Garfield Heights when he tried to pass through the train tracks. He says the signs were up, but pushed off to the grassy area on the sidewalk, so he drove through. However, his car got stuck on the tracks.

"My whole body was shaking. I was nervous,” he said.

Then, he heard the train.

“First thing that came to mind was get out of the car because the train was coming,” Powell said.

He said he wasn't the only one who passed the signs.

“Cars were following behind me and everything,” Powell said.

Earlier that night, another driver crossed the same train tracks and also got stuck. Both cars were hit by trains, but the drivers were not inside at the time.

Garfield Heights police said the signs were clearly posted on the road and not put off to the side. 

But Powell is sticking to his story and the accident was not his fault because the signs were not blocking the whole street, he says. 

Three signs were clearly marked and completely blocked the road when News 5 went to crash scene Friday afternoon. 

Police are now advising drivers to avoid train tracks if there are any visible construction signs nearby.

Norfolk Southern Railway operates the trains on McCracken.

The company spokesman confirmed crews are resurfacing the road, which is why the road is closed. He said there are no actual roads on the train tracks, which is why cars are getting stuck.