An Amtrak train hit a car at the 2nd Street crossing this afternoon, Henry Graff reports for NBC 29. The car was dragged about 100 feet and, luckily, nobody was hurt. The driver says that the crossing arm hadn’t come down, while the train’s engineer says that it did. The driver has been charged with failure to obey a railroad crossing signal. Amtrak trains are generally going pretty slowly at that spot, because they’re so close to the station. (I used to live on South and 1st, with an apartment directly over the tracks.) There are several thousand such accidents each year.
I can’t help but feel a bit skeptical of Amtrak’s claim that the gate was down. Like many people, I read Walt Bogdanich’s 2004 “Death on the Tracks” series in the New York Times, for which he won a Pulitzer. Bogdanich revealed that rail crossing guards are routinely broken, engineers routinely lie and claim that they were working fine, and the railroads send out repairman to fix the problem faster than federal inspectors can arrive. There are hundreds of such fatal accidents every year, dozens of which aren’t ever reported to the National Response Center.
Photo kindly provided by “gman.”