RALEIGH — Safety is a major concern at theNorth Carolina State Fair. The death of James Michael Kelly, who was struck by a train and killed while walking on the train tracks next to the fairgrounds, has left many wondering, though, if it's possible to protect people fromthemselves.
In spite of Monday night's tragic accident, people continue to cross the tracks, alone and with baby strollers and young children.
On any given day during the fair, many people cross the railroad tracks along Hillsborough Street. Where there is no crosswalk or highway patrol officers, pedestrians take their chances.
"Especially when it's crowded and a lot of people want to park not in one of theparking lots, they'll try to go down one of the side streets to park," said Highway Patrol Sgt. J.D. Maxwell. "Then, they'll cross over in the dark, and it's real dangerous." In fact, it was deadly for the man struck and killed by a westbound freight train Monday night.
Officers are stationed along the railroad crossing at Hillsborough Street and Blue Ridge Road. There is also another crossing at Hillsborough and Powell.
Still, many fairgoers will not take advantage of the safe spots.
"Some people think it's quicker to go ahead and get over here instead of going ahead and waiting at the crosswalk," said fairgoer Kenny Jones.
"Where they see a trooper at the railroad tracks, there will be a pedestrian crossing, and it would be much safer if they went to that pedestrian crossing than it would if they just crossed the tracks on their own," said Maxwell.
In the end, no matter what troopers advise, some fairgoers are going to choose the shortest route -- even if it is the most dangerous one.
Raleigh police say Kelly was leaving the fairgrounds when he was hit. Kelly had been looking for work at the fair for several days. Officials say he was turned away at least once because he was intoxicated. Reporter: Betsy Sykes