Klamath County Train Crash Criminal Homicide Charges Dismissed by District Attorney
09.18.2015 – Almost two years after the death of his wife and brother, and seven months after the State filed charges, two Criminally Negligent Homicide charges against Nicholas Jordan Conway have been dismissed by Klamath County Sr. Deputy District Attorney Sharon Forster (Klamath Falls) on September 15, 2015. The State filed the Motion to Dismiss on grounds that the “State cannot prove [the case] beyond a reasonable doubt.”
On December 15, 2013, Mr. Conway was driving a Jeep Cherokee near Midland when a northbound Union Pacific freight train struck his vehicle at the crossing west of Highway 97 in Klamath County as he was making a right-hand turn. The marked railroad crossing did not have guardrails or lights.
His wife Kalla Conway, 25, and brother MacKenzie Conway, 33, died at the scene. Mr. Conway was taken to Sky Lakes Medical Center in Klamath Falls where he was treated for serious injuries. Despite the serious injuries he sustained, Mr. Conway was able to go to the store across the road from the tracks to seek help for his wife and brother. “He still does not know how he made it out of the accident alive,” said Conway’s attorney, Lissa Casey of Arnold Law in Eugene.
Lissa Casey further stated, “Nick has been grieving the loss of his wife and brother since this tragic day. He has been concentrating on raising his small daughter on his own with the help of his late wife’s parents.”
Lead attorney Mike Arnold said, “This was simply a tragic accident that never should have been charged criminally. We are thankful that Sr. Deputy Sharon Forster took a close second look at this case after the departure of Jody Vaughan from that office to Union County.”
When asked what Arnold Law did to cause the criminal dismissal, Mike Arnold replied, “Nothing that we know of. We hadn’t even completed our investigation, nor shared our theories with the prosecutor. This was simply Ms. Forester doing the right thing because it was the right thing to do. Ms. Forster worked hard to get up to speed on this case, looking into every angle, and she made the right call. And for that we are grateful.”
Mr. Conway said, “I am grateful I can put my efforts back in raising our daughter and learning to live life without my wife. I am relieved to see this process come to an end. I am so thankful that I don’t have to face prosecution anymore. I miss my wife and brother every day. The love of my daughter, in-laws and other friends and family are what have gotten me through this ordeal.”
The state’s investigation showed that Mr. Conway was not speeding nor trying to “beat the train.” It was simply a fleeting moment of inattention and Mr. Conway never saw the train coming. He was driving slowly, simply taking his wife and brother out for breakfast on a cold fall morning after herding cattle.
Arnold further said, “Mr. Conway hopes that some simple changes to this railroad crossing are made, such as the angle of the right-hand turn and the grade of the roadway. Changes like this are a better investment of community resources than prosecuting a grieving father, and will hopefully save lives.”
Arnold Law represents clients along the Oregon Coast and throughout Western Oregon, including in Portland, Eugene, Springfield, Salem, Corvallis, Cottage Grove, Albany, Newport, Oregon City, Beaverton, Clackamas, Wilsonville, Tigard, Hillsboro, Lake Oswego, Coburg, Creswell, Florence, Junction City, Lowell, Veneta, Oakridge, Roseburg, Brownsville, Halsey, Harrisburg Klamath Falls, Medford, Ashland, Grants Pass, Glendale, and Bend, and in the following counties: Lane County, Multnomah County, Washington County, Clackamas County, Linn County, Douglas County, Marion County, Coos County, Lincoln County, Benton County, Deschutes County, Josephine County, Klamath County, and Jackson County.