(Kinston, North Carolina – January 19, 2016)
A collision between an eastbound car and a northeast-bound Norfolk Southern freight train at the extremely skewed intersection of Vernon Avenue and NS railroad tracks early Tuesday morning, at about 7:30 A.M., EST, seriously injured two unidentified Kinston, North Carolina residents. The car occupants were transported to Lenoir Memorial Hospital in Kinston, NC, and from where they were airlifted to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, NC, and admitted in critical and serious conditions.
The victims had to be extricated from their massively-damaged van by emergency responders from Kinston Dept. of Public Safety Fire/Rescue.
Whether or not overhead cantilever flashing lights were properly functioning was not known, but, according to records kept by the Federal Railroad Administration, an average of over 21,000 highway vehicles, including seven school buses, cross paths with three NS trains at a maximum allowable speed of 30 mph each day. Also, there have been three previous collisions at this crossing, the most recent of which resulted in a fatality. What is clear from all these collisions is that the addition of automatic gates would have likely prevented these tragedies. Both Norfolk Southern and Operation Lifesaver know that the installation of gates to flashing light only crossing can reduce accidents by two-thirds.