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Amtrak train hits dump truck at Morrisville crossing

Posted August 16, 2010
Updated August 17, 2010

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— An Amtrak train on its way to Charlotte hit a tractor-trailer dump truck early Monday afternoon, temporarily closing a Morrisville railroad crossing.

The wreck happened around noon at the crossing at 5701 McCrimmon Parkway near Chapel Hill Road.

Morrisville Town Manager John Whitson there were no reports of fatalities or injuries and that the track was passable.

The crossing was closed Monday while crews cleared the scene and installed new signals and authorities investigated the wreck, he said. The crossing reopened by 2 a.m. Tuesday.

The driver of the dump truck told firefighters that the signal at the crossing was green and that traffic was moving across the track prior to the collision.

He was in the process of crossing the tracks when, he said, he heard the railroad crossing hit the tractor-trailer, trapping the vehicle.

The force of the impact tore the empty trailer from the cab and threw it more than 100 feet. It took another quarter-mile for the train to stop.

"It was like bad turbulence, like in the air (on a plane)," said Cindy Hall, one of 39 passengers on board the train.

"Right after the jolt, maybe a couple seconds later, you're shrouded in a cloud of dust smoke. You couldn't see anything," her husband, Bob Hall said. "That's when we knew we hit something."

42 Comments

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  • white0333 Aug 17, 2010

    blah blah blah

  • Not_Time_Yet Aug 17, 2010

    Funny how the stories always read "Train hits" instead of "Driver pulled in front of train". I know that intersection/crossing quite well and silly people pull up and stop on the tracks all the time. I don't, but one day last year when traffic was backed up I had some dummy pull around me because I wouldn't pull up on the tracks. This fool couldn't wait for traffic to move and instead took that stupid chance of sitting on the tracks.

    Fortunately a train didn't come through but I wonder what the camera in the locomotive will show. We should all remember the claims earlier in the year from the Durham crossing where people said the signals were not working, but the loco cam proved otherwise.

  • kewlmom Aug 17, 2010

    That train probably used less gas than what those 39 passengers would have used if they were driving to Charlotte themselves. Plus, using the train means I don't have to drive, so that's one less car on the road to clog these already crowded streets and highways.

  • RDUfan Aug 17, 2010

    you know, someone made a comment earlier being all sarcastic that we need MORE rail service. NOT Well, we do and its very efficient. Rail travel is more energy efficient, and uses less fuel, than cars or airplanes. According to U.S. Department of Energy data, Amtrak is almost 20 percent more efficient than domestic airline travel and 28 percent more efficient than auto travel on a per-passenger-mile basis. So there you have it.

  • kikinc Aug 17, 2010

    Even if the light's green, if traffic is moving slow, don't stop on the tracks. Simple as that. Don't cross until you know that you have enough room on the other side. That was one of the first things I learned in driver's ed.

    As for the intersection, sure it needs to be redone. That's what happens when there's growth in the area. I'm sure when the roads were first constructed, there wasn't nearly as much traffic as there is now.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Aug 17, 2010

    "I can't entirely say I think this was the truck driver's fault." -- lymang

    I vehemently disagree. If the story happened has you describe, you're dead wrong.

    Drivers should not block intersections and then depend on other drivers to bail them out of a bad situation. You must stop *before* crossing train tracks...and allow enough space to form on the other side before proceeding. If not, it's YOUR problem...your fault you got nailed. (It's like the people who block car intersections and then shrug, like it's not their fault they got stuck. It's *their* bad/rude/ignorant driving and they are the problem.)

  • lymang Aug 17, 2010

    OK so I see one other commentator says they saw it all and that the truck started to cross after the lights were red. That's not how I remember it at all - I was in front of the truck that was hit, and it didn't seem that way at all to me. The light at 54 & McCrimmon turned green, and I pulled forward but traffic was moving slowly. As I pulled out onto 54, I saw a car turn from 54 onto McCrimmon and stop. I wondered why, looked into the rear view mirror and saw the truck following across the tracks as the lights turned red and arms came down on truck. It seemed to ME that the truck was just in a bad place as the cars (myself included) didn't move forward fast enough. Now - what WAS stupid was, I can't believe the truck didn't just gun it and break the arms and get out of the way. He could have. Seconds later, the train hit the truck. Glad everyone was OK, but I can't entirely say I think this was the truck driver's fault.

  • carolinachris Aug 17, 2010

    I cross there daily. I've noticed that the gates seem to go down very late. Trains pass very quickly once the signal sounds. Plus, that intersection with McCrimmon and Chapel Hill Road is terrible. Congestion can trap vehicles if they stop on the tracks. The McCrimmon/Chapel Hill Road intersection should be redone. It is unsafe, not wide enough, traps vehicles near the rail road crossing, blocks traffic to Perimeter Parkway and doesn’t allow fire trucks to get out from the station nearby.

  • MT.Net Aug 16, 2010

    If a train hits you it's your fault. End of story.

  • Fuquayone Aug 16, 2010

    "39 passengers". Sounds like an efficient use of fuel. Sounds like we need MORE rail service. Not.

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