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Five Die When Train Crushes Car

November 1, 1989

CALERA, Okla. (AP) _ A freight train crushed a car that apparently tried to dodge the crossing gate, killing two mothers and their three trick-or-treating youngsters, authorities said today.

″It was completely demolished. It was almost like it was real silent,″ said Nancy Utter, a reporter for KTEN-TV in Sherman, Texas, who arrived moments after the collision Tuesday night. ″The only thing that appeared to be showing life was a baby in an infant seat. His arms and legs were moving.″

A family friend, Dorothy Barnett of Calera, said she had been told the children had been trick-or-treating at an aunt’s house and were heading to another home.

Sheriff B.J. Moore and Highway Patrol dispatcher Shaun Houghston said the car was dragged a quarter-mile by the 83-car Union Pacific train.

″We have reason to believe the driver attempted to weave through the arms of the crossing gate that apparently were down,″ said Police Chief Jack Stockton. ″We know the arms were down when the train was in the crossing. I assume they were operating properly, but that’s one of the things we are checking.″

Ms. Utter said lights from the railroad crossing were flashing when she and a half-dozen other cars pulled up to help. ″People were yelling to get help for the people trapped,″ she said.

Julia Turnbull, 21, of Denison, Texas; her sister-in-law Dawn Barnett, 24, of Calera, and her children Michael, 6, and Shcelelia, 5, died at the scene, and Ms. Turnbull’s son Darwin, 1, died at a hospital in Durant, officials said.

Calera is about 90 miles south of Oklahoma City and just north of the Texas line.

Update hourly