Local News

Durham man struck, killed by Amtrak train

Posted December 2, 2013
Updated December 3, 2013

Police say a pedestrian was killed by a train near Pettigrew and Plum streets in Durham Monday afternoon.

— A train hit and killed a man who was on a railroad track near Pettigrew and Plum streets in Durham shortly after noon Monday, police said.

Police said Joseph Mewborn, 20, of Durham, was walking with a friend around 12:20 p.m. when he was struck by an Amtrak passenger train. Mewborn was pronounced dead at the scene, but his friend was not injured.

The train, which was occupied by 85 passengers and three Amtrak employees, was traveling toward downtown Durham when the accident occurred, police said. No one on the train was injured.

According to Amtrak, the train was the No. 75 Piedmont, which was en route to Charlotte from Raleigh.


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  • mrsox05 Dec 6, 2013

    No one thinks it's strange that 2 people were walking on the tracks and only one of them was hit? How do we know his "friend" didn't push him in front of the train?? Hmmm...

  • 68_dodge_polara Dec 5, 2013

    "You can’t protect everyone."

    How true, however they could slow these trains down in urban areas and it would save many lives. I was at a crossing just yesterday near down town Durham as one of these Amtrak trains came flying through. They travel way too fast for something that takes half a mile to stop.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Dec 4, 2013

    You can’t protect everyone.

    Think of all of the people who still die in their cars at RR intersections, in spite of the extremes that society goes through to get their attention: reflective painted stripes in the road, large reflective signs (“Stop Here”, “Do not stop on tracks”), humongous automated arms that physically block the road, bright flashing lights, blaring bells...

  • 68_dodge_polara Dec 4, 2013

    They really need to slow the Amtrak trains down in urban areas.

  • jackaroe123 Dec 4, 2013

    "This one I don't get? Broad daylight, not alone, 2 sets of eyes and ears?"

    Amtraks are really fast. If there wasn't a clear sight line, they may not have had time to realize it was coming so much faster than a freight train. Maybe there were earbuds or headphones involved. Maybe sobriety, maybe he got sucked back in by a backdraft or something. There are a lot of possible factors that contribute to the physics of it, beyond the wisdom of any personal choices. Some of it will probably be sorted out in the investigation, but some of it may never be fully known.

    I think it's important to balance a need for information that can be used to educate others toward the prevention of such tragedies with respect for the deceased. No good can come from judging him now, and whatever we might criticize him for, I would hope none of us would have wished this result on him.

  • MitziGaynor Dec 3, 2013

    This one I don't get? Broad daylight, not alone, 2 sets of eyes and ears? Very unfortunate and sad.

  • scubagirl2 Dec 3, 2013

    "This is what happens when we hurl a 90 ton locomotive (along with the rest of a train) through heavily populated towns and cities. 68_dodge_polara"

    NO, THIS is what happens when folks who should be walking somewhere else CHOOSE to walk on the tracks AND NOT GET OFF THEM when the train is coming......12:30 PM is daylight-no excuses

  • anneonymousone Dec 3, 2013

    I knew Joseph Mewborn as a quiet, loyal, sweet young man. I am sorry for his death and for how it happened. My best thoughts are with his friends and family, as well as the staff and passengers of the train.

    Jackaroe123, thank you for the thoughtfulness of your words.

  • Obamacare for one and all Dec 3, 2013

    Why not enclose the tracks inside a chain-link like cage to keep people from crossing the tracks at non-designated RR crossings?

  • jackaroe123 Dec 3, 2013

    The deceased was a recent high school graduate. He was 20 and it took Summer School, but he was not far removed from some sense of normalcy and trying to make it in society. He may have been homeless; I don't know, but again, he was not far removed from some connection to mainstream society.

    While it is illegal to walk on tracks and for the obvious safety issue that unfortunately resulted here, I would hope none of us believes that cause-and-effect means anyone DESERVES a consequence as severe as death in the moral sense. The physics of it, well, duh, but we should still be able to consider this a horrible tragedy.