(Morrisville, North Carolina – August 29, 2014)
A married couple from Southern Pines, NC died last Friday night at about 9:51 P.M. at the oddly-configured crossing of Norfolk Southern Rails and North Carolina Highway 54 as the driver attempted to turn right off Chapel Hill Road (Hwy. 54) and onto Morrisville-Carpenter Road which parallels NS railroad tracks beyond the crossing.
The driver, John Hudson, 57, and his wife, Fiona Hudson, 55, were killed when their vehicle was struck by the train and was carried over a half-mile down the tracks as the end of the train finally came to a stop beyond the crossing where the tragedy occurred.
Law enforcement officers at the scene said it appeared the couple’s vehicle became stuck between the crossing gates, which close in both directions and appear to prevent escape from the predicament. Especially difficult is the right turn lane which branches off before the railroad but has gates on both sides of the track on the Morrisville-Carpenter Road entry lane.
Hudson was a well-known, successful high school band instructor, having built the band program at Triton High School in Harnett County when the new school opened in the 1980’s. A memorial page was quickly set up on Face Book, while area school leaders were commenting on the seriousness of the loss of Hudson.
“I just remember John was a dynamic instructor who ran a quality program,” said former Triton HS Principal Dan Honeycutt. “He had a lot of students, and anything they did, they did well.”
Area businesswoman Terry Johnson said she knew Hudson from both his days at Triton as well as earlier at Erwin High School. “He introduced me to music and encouraged me to work hard at it,” she recalled.
Madie McDougald, a former associate and teacher, said that she hoped Hudson in his afterlife would “Play a little music for the angels.”
The couple was the parents of three grown children, and Hudson, an avid and talented guitarist, was learning to play the banjo as well.
According to Federal Railroad Administration documents, the crossing has experienced eight previous, non-injury train/motor vehicle collisions. The crossing accommodates a daily average of 16 trains at a top allowable speed of 60 mph.