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Published: Sunday, 10/18/2009

Train hits car, kills dad, son

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

DELTA, Ohio - Chris Butler had been known to stop by Jason Allwood's home late at night, crossing the busy railroad track that bisects the driveway of his friend's home.

Just before 2 a.m. yesterday, Mr. Butler and his son Craig Chadwick, 22, of Delta, were killed when Mr. Butler's car, heading north on the Allwoods' gravel driveway, collided with a westbound Norfolk Southern train.

"It's a tragedy," said Marlena Allwood, who described her husband's friend as a fun-loving guy.

She said her family has grown accustomed to having a railroad run through their quarter-mile-long driveway.

"We know that you've got to stop and look and look again," Mrs. Allwood said. "You've really just got to creep up to it."

The Fulton County Sheriff's Office is investigating the crash.

Authorities released few details about the accident, which occurred east of Fulton County Road 11 and north of County Road F in York Township, west of the Worthington Steel plant.

Rudy Husband, spokesman for Norfolk Southern, said the 25-car, two-engine freight train was trav-

eling from Secaucus, N.J., to Chicago when the crash occurred. He described the line as a busy one, carrying between 70 to 100 freight trains a day.

Mr. Husband said trains are not required to blow their horns at private crossings, although Mrs. Allwood said she typically hears train whistles when people are outside or cars are coming up the driveway.

Family members of Mr. Chadwick who arrived to look at the crash site yesterday were shocked to see the out-of-the-way crossing marked with a stop sign on each side and a small sign that said "Private RR crossing. Look."

"It's like a death trap," remarked Lisa Martin of Rossford, who is an aunt of Mr. Chadwick.

"You'd think there would be every precaution, that even that shrub would be cleared," she said.

Mark Chadwick of Delta, who adopted Craig when he was 1 1/2 years old, said Craig did not know Mr. Butler, his biological father, until he was about 17.

More recently, the two had worked together in home construction.

"It was kind of a new thing," Mr. Chadwick said. "They were getting it together."

The two had been at a company party at Ralphie's in Perrysburg Friday night before heading to the Allwoods' house, he said.

Mr. Chadwick said he's driven down County Road F before and noticed the private driveway that cuts through a cornfield and across the railroad. It leads to a gray farmhouse.

"If this was [Mr. Butler's] buddy, he's probably crossed it a million times," he said. "It's one of those situations that's just weird."

Bill Hopkins, dispatcher with the sheriff's office, said Fulton County has numerous private railroad crossings on driveways that provide access either to houses or farm fields.

A railroad crossing inventory compiled by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio shows 30 private and 72 public rail crossings in Fulton County.

Mr. Hopkins said crashes at private crossings are unusual, though.

"It's very, very rare to have any problems at those crossings because they're usually only used by the people who are very much aware of what's going on with them," Mr. Hopkins said.

Mr. Chadwick said he was at the crash scene about 3:30 a.m.

He said it appeared to him that Mr. Butler was driving and that Craig, who was in the passenger seat, suffered the full impact of the train as they attempted to cross the tracks.

Autopsies were to be performed by the Lucas County Coroner's Office.

Craig Chadwick was a 2006 Delta High School graduate. He leaves behind two young children, a 1 1/2-year-old daughter and a son born four months ago.

"He was a typical 22-year-old," Mr. Chadwick said. "He'd had his setbacks from time to time."

Ms. Martin described her nephew as "all right, just struggling. He was working with his dad, trying to get him and his girlfriend in an apartment."

Contact Jennifer Feehan at:

jfeehan@theblade.com

or 419-724-6129.



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