Scott D. Benton, Chief of Police
20 Essex St
Whitman, MA 02382
For Immediate Release
Monday, April 9, 2018
Contact: Benjamin Paulin
Email: [email protected]
Whitman Police Investigating Incident at Railroad Crossing Involving School Van
WHITMAN — Chief Scott D. Benton reports that the Whitman Police Department is investigating an incident where a school minivan appeared to come within feet of being struck by a commuter rail train this afternoon.
One Whitman student was being transported inside the minivan at the time. The van and the train did not collide and there were no reports of any injuries.
“We are asking anyone who saw this incident to please come forward as we gather information about what happened,” Chief Benton said. “We are extremely thankful that no one was injured and that there was no collision between the van and the train. We are taking this incident very seriously and are actively investigating at this time.”
At approximately, 5:15 p.m. on Monday, April 9, Whitman Police received a notification that a train nearly struck a van at a railroad crossing on Essex Street.
A video taken by an individual driving behind the van has been obtained by Whitman Police.
In the video, the van is shown between the railroad crossing gates and is parallel with the train tracks. The 26-second clip shows what appears to be the last few cars of a MBTA Commuter Rail train passing by, coming within feet of the van.
Once the train went by and the gates were raised, the video shows the van backing up into the proper lane of traffic and driving away.
Throughout the video, the van had a school bus sign on its roof in the upright position, signifying that a child was on board.
The initial investigation indicates that the van driver stopped just before the tracks and that one of the gates came down on top of the van. The driver maneuvered the van off the tracks but was unable to get around the gates before the train came.
State law requires that all school buses stop completely at all railroad crossings between 15-50 feet away from the train tracks.
The driver has been identified by Whitman Police and is cooperating with police.
The van is owned by North River Collaborative, a Rockland-based educational organization that specializes in assisting children with special needs. North River Collaborative is contracted by the Whitman-Hanson Regional School District. The company transports students with special needs throughout the state.
It is unclear at this time what the van’s route was.
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to call the Whitman Police Department at 781-447-1212.