Inquiry continues into fatal train accident in Great Barrington


GREAT BARRINGTON >> Questions remained on Friday in the wake of a fatal accident at a railroad crossing involving the death of a local veterinarian.

Gary Cane, 75, of Mount Washington, was killed when his Jeep Grand Cherokee was struck by a Housatonic Railroad Co. freight train about 1 p.m. Thursday on the Maple Avenue crossing. Police closed the road for more than three hours.

Cane was a popular veterinarian who owned the Hillsdale Veterinary Clinic in New York, which served customers in both Massachusetts and New York. Brian B., a customer from New York City, wrote on the practice's Yelp! page that Cane was "one of the most caring people I know."

An autopsy of Cane is pending, and the accident remains under investigation by a state police Accident Reconstruction Team. Cane reportedly struck the safety gate set in place to prevent cars from crossing as a train approaches before the crash.

The gates are set to be down for at least 20 seconds before a train makes the crossing, according to guidelines set up by the Federal Railroad Association, a branch of the federal Department of Transportation.

The 14-car freight train was heading northbound at the time of the accident, according to police. Residents say trains cross the intersection at least three times a day. FSA regulations limit freight trains to speeds of 49 mph, and they must slow to 25 mph when making a crossing.

Sight lines at that crossing are not optimal, as the tracks emerge from a wooded area and are obscured at times by residences.

The Housatonic Railroad Co. did not return calls seeking comment.

The incident was the latest in a string of accidents in recent years on the railroad's 37-mile line from Pittsfield to Canaan, Conn.

In December 2014, a women suffered minor injuries when her vehicle was struck by a southbound train while trying to exit her driveway on North Plain Road. That section of the track runs for almost two miles adjacent to the road, crossing over several residential driveways that do not have signals.

Police at the time noted that visibility was poor due to falling snow.

There also were at least five derailments from 2010 to 2013, when the company upgraded the tracks: Lee, March 2010; Stockbridge, April 2011; Housatonic, November 2012; Sheffield, March 2013; and Lee, April 2013.

Contact Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251.


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