(Mooresville, North Carolina – September 22, 2015)
An as-yet unidentified male motorist, believed to be from Mooresville, NC, was airlifted to Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, NC with serious injuries after his late-model, white sedan was demolished by a Norfolk Southern freight train. A North Carolina Highway Patrol Trooper told Statesville Record & Landmark News Writer Donna Swicegood stated that the train “was traveling about 25 mph at the time of the crash” which occurred at the dangerous and unguarded intersection of NS railroad tracks and Wiggins Road just outside of Mooresville shortly before 7:00 P.M. EDT Tuesday evening.
Interestingly, Federal Railroad Administration documents state that not only are there no active warning devices, such as lights and gates, but also that the maximum allowable speed for those trains is 10 mph!
NCHP Trooper J.G. Barnes told both the Record & Landmark writer as well as Charlotte Fox News Channel 46 that the motorist “did not see the oncoming train” mainly because “there are no alert signals or stop arms at that location.”
Looking at satellite photos of the location, the short piece of Wiggins Road that approaches the heavily-travelled North Carolina Highway 801 offers virtually no vehicular storage space on either side of the crossing which allows public access to an unguarded approach of trains that are partially-obscured by various trackside trees in both directions.
Firefighters responding to the accident scene were forced to cut the victim out of the wreckage of his vehicle before enabling paramedics to place him aboard the medical helicopter for transport to the trauma center.
It is virtually certain that if this crossing was equipped with lights and gates, this accident one would not have happened. Both Norfolk Southern and Operation Lifesaver know that lights and gates are the most effective type of protection at railroad crossings. Studies that have been conducted over fifty years ago confirm that lights and gates offer the ability to drastically reduce the number of vehicle/train accidents by as much as 96%.
The Iredale County Sheriff’s Office was assisting the NCHP in the investigation of the near-tragedy.