The incident occurred at 9:12 p.m. Thursday at the Bashford Road crossing near the state fairgrounds. The Piedmont 74 train was heading to Raleigh from Charlotte when it hit a white Mustang on the railroad tracks.
Police say the two passengers in the car, Robert L. Burt Jr. and Jasper Williams, died in the accident. Burt's home is within a few hundred feet of the crossing.
"I was laying down with my jacket over my head and all of a sudden, I felt a jerk and the train started slowing down," says passenger Travis Boyd. "I smelled burnt rubber, but I did not know what it was."
The train dragged the car about a quarter of a mile. The train was carrying 24 passengers and four crewmembers. Police say the train engineer did everything he could to prevent the collision.
Two people on the train were treated for minor injuries. The passengers on the train were transported by van to the Raleigh train station, where they were taken to their destinations.
There have been other train accidents at the intersection. Four people have died since 1991 at the privately-owned Bashford Road crossing. There were five non-fatal accidents during that time.
In 1998, a mother and her young son died at the crossing when a train slammed into their mini-van. Attorney David Mills represents the estate of the boy killed in that accident and says neither rail companies, the state nor private land owners have acted quickly enough to close the crossing.
"So far, absolutely nothing has been done in spite of the fact that now there have been six deaths within nine years at this crossing, and the only things there are stop signs," he says.
Last year, the Federal Railroad Administration awarded North Carolina $1 million to upgrade or close crossings from Hillsborough to east Durham and from Cary to Raleigh.
DOT officials plan to start building a new road open from Highway 54 in January. They hope to have it completed by next May.
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