(Garner, North Carolina – October 4, 2013)
A 59-year-old female driver was killed Friday night at about 9:45 P.M. when witnesses say her car appeared to become stuck on Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks at the crossing of Vandora Springs Road in Garner, NC and was hit by Amtrak’s “Silver Star” bound for Miami, FL with 200 passengers and crew on board.
Robin Downes Mozafaripour of Raleigh, NC drove her 2012 Kia Soul on the Vandora Springs Road approach to the crossing when she turned right off eastbound Garner Road and onto the crossing, which is only a few feet from the highway intersection.
A witness said the car seemed unable to move from the crossing, and that she saw the driver put the car in reverse and try to rock it back and forth from its point of impalement in vain, only to have the train hit and carry the car an undetermined length before releasing it to the side of the tracks.
Another witness, Tyler Julian, said “I was coming out of church and there was a car sitting on the train track. The whistle blew and the car didn’t move. I don’t know why she wasn’t moving; she may just have had car trouble,” continued Julian, who said she then jumped out of her car after the collision and tearfully called 911.
Although the NS/Vandora Springs Road crossing is completely equipped with automatic flashing lights, bells and crossing gates, it has a dubious safety record, having now been the site of 10 train/motor vehicle accidents, four of them fatalities and one resulting in serious injury. A daily average of a dozen trains cross there at a top allowable speed of 49 mph.