(Winterport, Maine – September 15, 2015)
At about 2:30 PM last Tuesday afternoon, an 11-car train powered by a single locomotive struck a car at the heavily vegetation-obscured, unguarded intersection of Meadow Road and Central Maine & Quebec Railway tracks in the Waldo County, ME.
Danielle Godley, 36, of Winterport clearly never saw the approaching train, one of between two and four trains that operate through the community daily at a usual speed of 15 mph, as there were no active warning devices, such as lights and gates at the crossing. The victim, who was admitted at the Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, ME for treatment of undisclosed injuries suffered in the crash, never received advance notice of the arrival of the train at the crossing. This unawareness was made even more difficult by uncut underbrush that shield drivers’ sight triangles.
On July 6, 2013, a standing Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railroad unit tank car train of Bakken oilfield-produced crude oil overcame what the 74-car train’s single crewman had hoped were sufficient braking devices he had set on the train’s potentially volatile cargo-carrying rail cars and its locomotives before retiring for rest at a local hotel, only to have the train overcome its restraints, roll down a gradual, descending grade and speed, uncontrolled, through extreme track curvatures in the picturesque, tourist-filled town of Lac Megantic, Quebec, Canada, where it derailed, exploded, and killed 47 people, injured hundreds more and destroyed or damaged $200 million worth of property. In the aftermath, the MM&A would declare bankruptcy, and a sizeable portion of the rail line would eventually be purchased by the Fortress Investment Group’s Railroad Acquisition Holdings subsidiary, only to emerge as the Central Maine & Quebec Railway last year.
With regard to Tuesday’s accident, witness Jennifer Bricker of Hermon, ME told The Bangor Daily News that the victim “was coming across the tracks and I heard the train whistle. It (the train) just ran into the back end of her car and spun her around. There was a car seat (to accommodate a small child) in the back of her car, (so) it could have been worse.”
Another observer, Dana Edwards, who lives nearby, said to the same newspaper “My whole question: is that crossing being properly maintained by the railroad? I just think it should be lighted. I know you can’t light every crossing in the state, but I think it should be lighted with one of those guards that some down or better signed or something.”
Edwards continued his critique of the crossing by saying “I just think someone needs to look at it and make sure they’re doing everything they can to prevent something (else) from happening.”