Railroad crossings are very dangerous places. I was saddened to read about the death of an elderly couple on the tracks in North Carolina over the weekend.
Authorities said a freight train collided with a car in Wake County, claiming the lives of 86-year-old William Flint and 83-year-old Dorothy Flint of Cary. The occupants of the car were killed in the collision that occurred about 8 p.m. Saturday at an intersection in Morrisville, NC.
News reports suggested the driver of the Toyota Camry made a wrong turn, and the car got stuck on the tracks
Although investigators said the arms at the intersection were functioning properly, the family of the deceased couple later questioned the safety of the crossing which has been the scene of a number of fatal crashes in recent years.
The news station WNCN reported that the fatal crash occurred at a grade crossing at Chapel Hill Road and Morrisville-Carpenter Road in Morrisville. Investigators said William Flint was driving the car and was trying to turn right from Morrisville Carpenter Road to N.C. 54 when he ended up on the tracks.
Dorothy Flint used a walker and fell, according to media reports. Her husband was trying to help her when the train hit. A westbound freight train crashed into the couple’s Toyota Camry that was on the tracks between the crossing arms, investigators said.
WNCN reported that the grade crossing where the Flints lost their lives was the scene of three previous accidents since 2007, according to NCDOT records. Some of those accidents proved to be fatal.
In 2007, a car got stuck on tracks and the driver was able to get out before a train struck.
Another driver got stuck on the tracks on April 30, 2011. That vehicle was struck by a train.
On Aug. 29, 2014, a car stopped on tracks and the driver attempted to reverse and was hit by a freight train killing both occupants of vehicle.
North Carolina Department of Transportation said the crossing had been upgraded in 2009 when concrete islands, another lane and more warning gates were added.
Family members of the couple who died remained skeptical, claiming the crossing is very dark at night. NCDOT said it will examine the accident report and along with the other agencies reevaluate this crossing.
When lives are lost at railroad crossings there can be a number of causes. However, if a crossing is defective, due to a malfunction or poor visibility or design, a railroad may be held liable for deaths and injuries sustained by the occupants of vehicles. A passenger may have grounds to make a claim against a driver’s policy.
Recently we noted that hundreds of people lose their lives and many more are injured in grade crossing accidents, although the number of accidents has fallen. There were 3,085 accidents across the country that killed 371 people in 2004. Those figures fell to 2,096 accidents that claimed 288 lives in 2013.
If you have lost a loved one on a railroad crossing accident in Virginia or North Carolina, you should call Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers at 757.455.0077 for a free consultation