11/10/05 — Woman stops her car on railroad crossing

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Woman stops her car on railroad crossing

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on November 10, 2005 1:52 PM

A woman suffered minor injuries after a train took off the front end of her 1997 Buick LeSabre at the intersection of Royall Avenue and Sunburst Drive shortly before 1 p.m. Wednesday.

The driver, Barbara Dawson, 63, of Pikeville, attempted a right turn from Royall Avenue to Sunburst Drive heading southbound. Goldsboro police Officer Patrick Carcirieri said Mrs. Dawson stopped her vehicle in the railroad crossing after she noticed the Norfolk Southern train heading westbound in her direction.

As the train approached, the crossing arms, used to protect pedestrians and motor vehicles from locomotives, lowered onto the front end of Mrs. Dawson's Buick, Carcirieri said.

According to the police report, Mrs. Dawson said she saw the train coming and stopped her car. When she realized her vehicle was still on the tracks, she reversed the car and stopped before the accident occurred.

Train engineer Lonnie Liles said he saw the car on the train tracks and sounded the horn, according to the police report. Despite an attempt to stop, the train collided with the vehicle.

The train sustained an estimated $50 in damage, while the car had an estimated $7,000. Emergency crews were called to the scene, but Mrs. Dawson refused treatment for her injuries. She was cited for failure to stop at a railroad crossing.

Although these types of accidents do not occur every day, Carcirieri said during his time with the GPD, Wednesday's accident was the third he has responded to at the intersection of Royall Avenue and Sunburst Drive. Robin Chapman, a public relations representative for Norfolk Southern, said these collisions occur in every state.

"These accidents are more common than they ought to be," Chapman said. "There are definitely too many."

According to the Federal Railroad Administration, 3,006 collisions between trains and automobiles occurred in the United States in 2004. Based on these accidents, North Carolina ranks in the top 15 states nationally in highway-rail crossing fatalities, pedestrian trespass fatalities and pedestrian trespass injuries.

In 2004, 12 motorists died in North Carolina because of injuries incurred in a collision with a train. The state ranked fifth in the nation last year for having 20 fatalities caused by pedestrians trespassing onto a railroad crossing.

In Wayne County, no injuries were sustained due to a train-automobile collision last year. However, according to the Office of Safety Analysis for the Federal Railroad Administration, two accidents did occur in the county last year.