A South Shore commuter train collided with a car Friday east of Gary, killing two women in the car after it drove around a crossing arm at a rail crossing where at least five other people have died in similar crashes since 2007.
Gary police Lt. Samuel Roberts said two women died and a young child and another adult who were also in the car were injured in the 9:15 a.m. crash.
Railroad spokesman John Parsons said no one was injured on the eight-car train, which had originated in South Bend and was bound for Chicago. He said the collision occurred when the southbound car went around an arm at the crossing on the Lake-Porter county line.
A spokesman for the Lake County coroner's office identified the dead women as Taajae McKinley, 20, of East Chicago, and Victoria A. Lucio, 19, of Gary. McKinley was the driver of the car, authorities said.
An 18-month-old girl, Quiseya Pratts, was airlifted to University of Chicago Hospital with serious internal injuries, police said. Her condition was not immediately available. The child's mother, Marquis Pratts, of Gary, was taken to Methodist Northlake Hospital, which would not release information about her condition.
Clementine DuBose of Gary said that she was two cars behind the small white car that was struck by the train when the crash occurred.
"I couldn't believe it. It was surreal. They went around the gates,'' said DuBose, who was on her way to a meeting.
She said the gates were down at the multiple-track intersection and one train had just cleared the northernmost set of tracks when the car's driver proceeded to go around the gates. The collision pushed the car several hundred yards along the tracks.
Gary Fire Department Battalion Chief Evin Eakins said the car was struck on the driver's side.
In April 2008, two Gary residents were killed when they went around the gates and were struck by an Amtrak train. In December 2007, a Gary man was killed when his truck collided with a South Shore train. A Crown Point woman and a Valparaiso woman were killed in March 2007 when they also pulled around the gate and their car was struck by a South Shore train.
In June 1998, three South Shore passengers were killed when their Chicago-bound train collided with a steel-hauling truck that had become trapped by crossing gates between two sets of railroad tracks in an industrial area.
The three men died when the collision knocked a 20-ton steel coil off the truck and it crashed through the passenger compartment, crushing them and injuring six others.
An in January 1993, seven passengers died and 69 were injured when two South Shore trains sideswiped each other on a narrow stretch of track, decapitating some of the victims when the trains' metal skin peeled inward into the passenger compartment.