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Sheriff Sigsworth: Train fatality 'may have been a suicide'

Cary Ashby • Mar 20, 2019 at 1:00 PM

As the investigation continues into a fatal crash involving a pickup truck and moving train, authorities are attempting to determine if the March 13 incident was a possible suicide.

Based on interviews with several people, Erie County Sheriff Paul Sigsworth said there’s an indication “it may have been a suicide.” However, he stressed that nothing has been ruled out for the person’s cause of death.

“We will investigate the information contained in those statements,” Sigsworth added. “The investigation is ongoing.”

The unidentified lone occupant of a pickup truck died after a fiery collision with a train just before 7 p.m. March 13 in Erie County’s Berlin Township. The accident happened at the railroad crossing on Ohio 61 between U.S. 6 and Ohio 2.

“The individual went right through the gate and directly into the side of the train,” Sigsworth said after the crash.

Authorities haven’t released the name the victim.

“We are awaiting a positive identification from the coroner’s office while they are conducting some DNA testing,” chief Deputy Jared Oliver said Tuesday.

The southbound Dodge truck hit one of the last cars on the train, which authorities estimate was going between 50 and 60 mph. After the collision, the vehicle rolled over, caught fire and “was engulfed by flames,” Sigsworth said earlier.

The crash closed Ohio 61 between U.S. 6 and Ohio 2 for about three hours.

Sigsworth said the victim died at the scene, noting the damage caused by the fire and crash “was obviously severe.”

“We have tentative information on who the victim is based on conversations with relatives, but we will confirm the ID with the DNA comparison,” he added.

Deputies, firefighters from Berlin and Huron townships, North Central EMS, Erie County Coroner Dr. Brian Baxter and Foster Funeral Home and Crematory in Huron responded to the scene. A trooper with the state Highway Patrol handled traffic control.

When asked earlier if drugs or alcohol were possible factors, Sigsworth said that type of information won’t be available until the coroner’s report is finished. Also, the sheriff has said there is no indication of distracted driving.

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