Railroad News

Erratic Crossing Gates Contribute to Amtrak/Semi Crash in North Carolina

(Jamestown, North Carolina – August 16, 2012)

At least three people on a Charlotte, NC-to-Raleigh, NC Amtrak passenger train claimed injuries and were taken to a hospital following the collision of the train, traveling on Norfolk Southern rails, and an 18-wheeler hauling 40,000 pounds of agricultural lime at the crossing of Dillon Road and NS railroad tracks in Jamestown, NC Thursday afternoon at about 1:30 P.M., the main story was the erratic past and present performance of the gates and signals at the crossing.

North Carolina Highway Patrol Trooper A.J. Lamp said the driver of the truck, Julian Lamar, 47, of Roanoke, AL, was charged with “stopping on the tracks” even though Pinecroft-Sedgefield Fire Dept. Deputy Chief Jeff Thomas said “It seems to be the consensus that he (Lamar) crossed onto the tracks before the gates came down,’ adding that “The gates are functional, but they weren’t down yet when he proceeded across the white line. There was traffic behind him, so he couldn’t proceed back.”

The agricultural lime, a hazardous commodity which can cause eye irritation, burns and irritation to exposed flesh and can be extremely irritating to the respiratory system if inhaled, billowed into the air at impact and created a dusty covering for all things and areas surrounding the accident scene.

Dozens of onlookers shared their own nightmarish experiences with the crossing gates’ erraticism, many complaining that there is not always sufficient warning time for motorists to come to a full stop when the crossing signal sounds, or that the gate crossarms frequently come down on top of cars without warning.

“Sometimes you’re driving over the track and there are no lights, no bells or anything and the gate just comes down,” charged Jamestown resident Kim Farrington. “I’ve had the arm come down and hit my van three times,” she continued.

A daily average of 26 trains, including Amtrak passenger and Norfolk Southern freight, cross the intersection daily at speeds of up to 60 mph.