Local News

Raleigh woman killed at train track panicked, witness says

Posted October 7, 2013

— A Raleigh woman who died after an Amtrak train bound for Miami rammed into her car at a Garner railroad crossing appeared to be panicked and unsure of what to do, according to a witness who saw the crash.

"It was just unbelievable," Michelle Foster said Monday. "My whole body went cold."

Garner police say Robin Downes Mozafaripour's Kia got stuck on the tracks at about 9:45 p.m. Friday after she turned right onto Vandora Springs Road from Garner Road and apparently took the turn too tight.

Police say the bells and signals started sounding and the gates lowered while Mozafaripour was trying to dislodge her car.

Foster said the wheels were turning so hard and fast that they started to smoke.

"That's how bad she was really trying to get out of there," she said.

"I just thought that, maybe, I could run underneath and open the door for her, but as I proceeded up to the tracks, I saw the lights from the train, and I just knew it wasn't safe for me to go up and open the door for her," Foster added.

The train hit Mozafaripour's car, pushing it about 50 feet, according to a police report.

Foster said it happened so fast that Mozafaripour didn't have time to escape.

"She couldn't go forward, and she couldn't go backward," Foster said. "She panicked and didn't know what to do."

A longtime neighbor and friend said Monday that Mozafaripour leaves behind a husband and three grown daughters.

13 Comments

This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • grammie27 Oct 8, 4:25 p.m.

    The warning signals at that crossing are VERY slow to activate. From the time we heard the warning whistle at the Yeargan Rd. crossing today around noon until the Vandora Springs Rd. signals activated was around 2-3 minutes. The Yeargan Rd. crossing is only about 1/2 mile away from where the woman was killed. Granted today's train was running MUCH slower than is the norm for this area, but still.......the signals should have activated much more quickly! The railroad authorities and NCDOT definitely need to look into this situation....and do it NOW...before there's another fatality!

  • Pepe Silvia Oct 8, 3:42 p.m.

    If you get stuck the lights start flashing/ bars start coming down, just get out.

    Get out immediately, grab your kids and pets, and get away from the car and the tracks (go towards the direction the train is coming from, as the impact will likely push the car down the tracks and may send things flying in the process) as fast as you can.

  • IPayYouPay Oct 8, 1:17 p.m.

    You get out of your car IMMEDIATELY!

  • macy Oct 8, 12:54 p.m.

    "We as a society place so much on material things." zile1porkey

    Who said she was being materialistic? I am sure she was frozen in fear and panicked!! Just horrible. I cannot believe some of the heartless comments people make on here.

  • toxendine3 Oct 8, 11:38 a.m.

    It sounds like she was too focused on trying to move the vehicle when she should have just gotten out. That is what insurance is for!! Poor thing...

  • Lightfoot3 Oct 8, 10:23 a.m.

    “sounds like this place needs some better marking.” - exador7


    If you’re paying attention you’ll do okay. This issue is that the turn is greater than 90 degrees. She might have been looking ahead in the turn and ran off on the right side, which would be on the tracks. I doubt the city or railroad realizes the problem, and thus shouldn’t be held accountable. However, given the other poster’s comment about their wife doing something similar, it does sound like some preventative measures could be put in place. The best solution would be to extend the road grade a bit down the track. Also, the white line marking the right edge of the road could be extended. Maybe some rumple markers in the road too.

  • 68_dodge_polara Oct 8, 10:06 a.m.

    How many people have Amtrak trains killed in Durham, Raleigh, and Morrisville?

  • SisterChristian Oct 8, 10:00 a.m.

    I got caught on a railroad track on the way home from work one late afternoon. I was driving my new black Rav4 and tried to beat the train. The crossings started to close and I got stuck in between them on the track. I panicked but backed my car up ripping and bending the crossings and tearing my roof up. In a split second the Amtrak came flying by. I was very lucky that day and learned a valuable lesson. It was not my time to go. I always stop at Railroad crossings and use extra precaution. Even though the 'sound of a train' is my favorite sound, a train can be deadly....always use precaution and never try and beat the train. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family.

  • exador7 Oct 8, 9:40 a.m.

    I guess she actually turned onto the tracks huh? sounds like this place needs some better marking. So sorry for the families loss.. If it won't move ,,, get out of it..

  • Scubagirl Oct 8, 9:39 a.m.

    Horrible event. I can't imagine her terror.

More...