Charges dropped in deadly train, dump truck crash in Cleveland

CLEVELAND (WJW) — The FOX 8 I-Team has found charges dropped against a dump truck driver suspected of hitting and killing a local train conductor.

Records show the case dismissed by the Cleveland City Prosecutor days before the case had been set for trial. The driver had been charged with vehicular manslaughter.

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The incident happened in March of last year in the Flats. Police said a dump truck with a full load hit a Norfolk Southern train and crushed the conductor.

A court complaint said the truck driver was negligent crossing the train tracks. However, a police report also revealed no flashing lights or gates at the rail crossing. And, no lighting on the train car to show it was going in reverse.

Now, the court docket shows the case dismissed for “want of prosecution.”

Cleveland City Hall says the case was dismissed for “weak evidence,” including the lack of lights and gates at the rail crossing.

Just after the crash, Vince Verna, Vice President with the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, told the I-Team, “We’re very sorry to hear about the tragedy with our union brother there. That accident will be investigated fully to see what happened and how we can prevent this in the future.”

Among those investigating was the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. So, we checked back with OSHA.

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In an email, a spokesperson wrote the following:

On March 7, 2023, at about 1:05 a.m. (local time), a Norfolk Southern (NS) conductor was fatally injured during a switching movement in Cleveland, Ohio. The conductor was riding the rear end of NS local Train C-75B-106 comprised of one locomotive and 12 cars. The train was being shoved west through the Cleveland Cliffs location, destined for the NS yard at the time of the accident. As the train entered the industry crossing at a private road, a dump truck began to cross the tracks causing the train to strike the truck and crushing the conductor.

Since the incident involved a train traveling over the rails, OSHA did not have jurisdiction over Norfolk Southern.  So, OSHA closed the Norfolk Southern fatality as “no Inspection.”  They were under the jurisdiction of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

OSHA also investigated Cleveland Cliffs (property owner) #1655975 and Stein, LLC (employer of the dump truck operator) #1655973.  No violations were found at either of these two companies related to the incident.

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