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BATAVIA, Iowa (WHO) –– A tragic vehicle and train crash happened Tuesday in Batavia, Iowa claiming two young lives.
The driver and her youngest child were hospitalized but her other two children died.
Stopping for trains is part daily life in the small town of Batavia.
Monday afternoon, 25 year old Tara Lewman was heading home with her three daughters.
She came to a stop at the fourth street tracks before driving around the crossing arms.
The Iowa State Patrol says she never saw the locomotive coming until it was too late.
“She did not see the train coming because there was another train blocking the vision. She made the decision to go around the tracks and we lost two individuals because of that decision,” said Sergeant Scott Bright.
The engine hit the passenger side pushing her mini van down the embankment on the other side of the tracks and killing 4 year old Erika and 5 year old Callie.
Lewman and her one year old daughter, Jordan, survived.
“I just lost two nieces and my niece is in the hospital with her youngest one and stuff so I feel bad,” said family member, Bert Lewman.
Bert Lewman just spent Easter with his nieces.
He describes them as playful, happy little girls.
“It’s an accident and there’s nothing you can do now,” said Lewman.
“It really makes you glad for what you have and hold on tight to what you do have. It really breaks your heart,” said Batavia resident Jodie Blunt.
Jodie Blunt has two kids of her own and like everyone in Batavia knows the family.
She says darting across the tracks, even when the crossing arms are down happens more than you might think.
“You can see the train tracks from our house and you can see it happen every day,” said Blunt.
Blunt admits she’s done it.
“You sit there forever and do you cross the tracks with the arms down or do you wait. I’ve been in that situation, I’ve crossed the tracks with the arms down. I guarantee you I won’t do that again,” said Blunt.
But the deaths of two little girls here is a tragic reminder.
“When you come to those railroad crossings and the lights are flashing, stop, don’t go through them. It’s not worth your life,” said Bright.
Lewman and her one year old daughter are said to be doing ok or as well as can be expected.