Two children killed in SUV, train collision
Posted December 9, 2009 6:23 p.m. EST
Updated December 10, 2009 7:24 a.m. EST
Durham, N.C. — Two children were killed and their mother injured when a train and SUV collided Wednesday evening near the intersection of Ellis Road and Angier Avenue, according to Durham Police Department spokeswoman Kammie Michael.
The Amtrak passenger train was traveling west when it struck a Ford Explorer sitting on the train tracks at 5:19 p.m. The Explorer was on the tracks when the train's warning arms came down and was apparently blocked in by traffic, Michael said.
Two brothers in the Explorer – a 9-year-old and 6-year-old – were thrown from the vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene, Michael said.
“That is not the first time that this has happened here,” Durham resident Savannah Ford said of the collision.
Ford lives near the crossing and heard the train coming toward the SUV.
“I heard him (conductor) lying down on the whistle, and then heard what sounded like a transformer exploding. But knew it was an accident right away,” Ford said.
Ford said she will never forget what she heard as she ran toward the crossing.
“What was incredibility sad about it was that I heard the mother screaming because she was trying to save her children,” Ford said.
Surveillance video from nearby New York Mini Mart showed the train approaching the intersection before the crash.
Ahmed Naji, who works at the convenience store, said there are often close calls at the crossing.
“People are going by the street and the train has the road closed, so they have no choice but to stop in the middle of the road,” Naji said.
Paramedics transported the boys' mother, who was driving the SUV, to Duke University Hospital for treatment. She suffered non-life-threatening injuries, Michael said.
The names of the victims were not released.
The 129 people on the Amtrak train were not injured.
Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said the train was bound for Charlotte. Due to the collision, the crew was released from duty and a replacement engineer and conductor took over the route, Magliari said.
Some streets in the area of Angier Avenue and Ellis Road were blocked for several hours after the collision.
Woman killed in Durham train, car crash in 2001
One woman died and another was seriously injured after the car they were in was hit by a train at the intersection of Ellis Road in Durham in November 2001.
Janet Teasley Watson of Durham and Barbara Ann Dickerson of Creedmoor were in a 1991 Ford Thunderbird, which officials said was on the train tracks, when they were hit by an Amtrak train.
The collision happened near Pettigrew Street. The passenger train was coming from New York City and had a stop in Durham.
Police said that the car, driven by Teasley, was traveling north on Ellis Road when it came up behind several vehicles stopped at the railroad crossing gates, which were down. According to a witness, Teasley went around the stopped vehicles and into the oncoming travel lanes.
The Thunderbird then drove around the railroad crossing gates and onto the railroad tracks, where a westbound Amtrak train struck it, according the police.
The impact caused the Thunderbird to become airborne and smash into a railroad control building before coming to rest parallel to Pettigrew Street.
Dickerson, a passenger in the car, died in the accident. Watson was in serious condition at Duke Medical Center after undergoing emergency surgery. None of the 122 passengers on board were hurt.