Oregon City resident Patrick Shea's death from an Amtrak train in the Canemah neighborhood illustrates the importance of keeping an eye out for trains in the area largely lacking in warning signals or crossing arms.
Shea, 73, was killed by the train at 11:50 a.m. on Oct. 15 near First Avenue and Jerome Street in Oregon City. Shea was the second Oregon death involving a Seattle-to-Eugene Amtrak Cascades train in two days, following closely after Laureano Joronimo-Matias, 40, who died Oct. 14 in Woodburn after disregarding lowered crossing gate arms.
Amtrak's 75 passengers, plus crew on board, were delayed 3 hours and 10 minutes while Shea's death was being investigated. Unlike in the Woodburn case, there is no authorized crossing with gate arms near OC's First and Jerome intersection. ODOT State Rail Planner Robert Melbo said the lack of crossing means that the Federal Railroad Administration will likely record Shea's death as a trespassing fatality.
"There are no electronic warning devices, which is pretty typical of private crossings," Melbo said. "Safety relies on the signs and personal vigilance by users."
Melbo explained that Oregon public railroad crossings involve publicly owned and maintained streets, roads and highways with a governmental entity responsible for the roadway on both sides of the track. They can't be altered without obtaining a permit from ODOT, while private crossings exist as the result of arrangements with the railroad company, in this case Union Pacific Railroad.
"There are a variety of different mechanisms by which private crossings are authorized, among them agreements, leases, easements and deed conditions," Melbo said. "Private crossings, other than required signage, are not regulated by ODOT."
This version of the story online corrects the name of the person who died in the train crash. Hollis G. Pylant, 48, died in an Oregon City house fire three days earlier.
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