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Two Killed at Wis. Rail Crossing

October 2, 2000

DE PERE, Wis. (AP) _ A car drove past flashing lights and alarm bells into the path of a freight train at an ungated crossing, killing two teen-age girls. Another teen was seriously injured, but two others were not hurt.

``The lights were operating. The bell was going. The train’s whistle was very functional. We don’t know why they crossed the front of the train,″ police Capt. John Koser said Monday.

There was no evidence alcohol was a factor, he said. Investigators were trying to determine if late-afternoon sun glare may have obscured the driver’s view of the flashing red lights.

The five young women in the car involved in Saturday’s collision with a Wisconsin Central train were visiting nearby St. Norbert College, where one is a freshman, Koser said.

The collision occurred during late afternoon next to a bar owned by Frank Hermans, at a crossing on a street where traffic has been increasing.

``The city of De Pere has been growing every year,″ Hermans said. ``St. Norbert has its largest freshman class ever. People try to find the fastest way through the city. Between 3 and 5 p.m. it gets really busy.″

``If they would’ve had gates, this never would have happened,″ said Jon Anacker, a St. Norbert student.

The victims were identified as Stephanie Starr and Alaya Serafico, both 17 and from Sturgeon Bay, Koser said.

The driver of the car, Kristine Barnes, 18, of De Pere, and another passenger were not hurt, Koser said. A fifth passenger was hospitalized in serious condition, he said.

Other railroad crossing accidents in Wisconsin have killed five people in the past two months.

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