New teen driver killed when vehicle hit by train

Girl recently had received her temporary driver’s permit.
MCT Regional News
Oct 7, 2013

A 15-year-old Ravenna Township girl who recently got her temporary driver’s permit was killed Sunday night when the vehicle she was driving was struck by a train.

Sierra Thornton was driving on an access road that runs between her family’s house and South Prospect Street in Ravenna Township when she was hit by a train at a railroad crossing about 6 p.m., according to Tom Decker, chief investigator for the Portage County Coroner’s Office.

The teen was pronounced dead at the scene.

Portage County Sheriff David Doak said the novice driver was out for a drive on the private road with her father and four younger sisters in an SUV when her dad saw or heard the train approaching.

The girl stopped the SUV on the tracks, which doesn’t have a crossing gate, according to the sheriff.

“She got into a panic and didn’t know what to do and was not able to get out of the way of the train,” Doak said. “We think she was trying to get the vehicle into another gear or trying to back up.”

The train struck the driver’s side of the SUV, Doak said.

“It was in really bad shape,” he said.

Her father was conscious at the scene but taken to Robinson Memorial Hospital because he was experiencing pain, Doak said.

The four younger girls were transported to Akron Children’s Hospital.

Their conditions weren’t immediately available.

As of 10 p.m. Sunday, Decker said he was only aware of one fatality in the accident.

An autopsy is expected to take place today at the Summit County Medical Examiner’s Office to determine the exact cause of death.

Under Ohio law, teens can obtain a temporary driver’s license when they turn 15½ to begin learning how to drive.

Teens with temporary permits are required to drive with a licensed adult.

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By Cheryl Powell - Akron Beacon Journal (MCT)

©2013 the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)

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