Swanton couple's home narrowly misses being clipped by derailed train cars

SWANTON, Ohio (WTVG) - It was an unusual wake-up call for Tia and Ed Poitinger.

"It sounded like a tornado came through, and it lasted about 15 to 20 seconds," Ed Poitinger said.

The couple says they just crawled into bed Thursday night at their Allen Drive home in Swanton when something didn't seem right.

"The house always shakes when trains go by, we're that close, but I mean the bed was literally jumping up and down," Poitinger said.

A few seconds later Poitinger says the power went out and when he stepped outside he was shocked by what he saw.

"I got up, opened up the back door and there's a train car literally at my back door," Poitinger said. "There was a train car here and a train car here, literally, right around my garage."

The mess was the result of a collision between a Norfolk Southern engine and a vehicle. Troopers say the driver somehow turned onto the tracks and then fled the scene.

"When the train pushed the truck westbound, it struck a couple poles and did bring down power lines," Sgt. Brian St. Clair with the Ohio State Highway Patrol said.

The wreck also caused the rupture of a nearby propane tank not far from the Poitingers' home.

"There was a real strong smell of propane, so we got out and we started knocking on doors, going down the road, telling everybody to get out," Poitinger said.

A few hours later the pair was able to return home. Now waiting for things to clean up the Poitingers say they're just grateful to be alive.

"We're safe, so the bottom line is we're good," Poitinger said.

Crews are working around the clock to get this mess cleaned up and the railroad running again. Leaders say they expect to start laying new track sometime on Saturday.