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Update: Police Say Driver Improperly Stopped Car Before Train Struck

Wreck blocked traffic on Friday afternoon.

Update: There were a lot of unanswered questions after the train-car collision Friday afternoon. Patch asked the Decatur Police Department for more information and this is what we were told Tuesday:

Vehicle 1 was traveling south, in the curb lane, within the 100 block of North McDonough Street.  Vehicle 1 failed to properly stop for the traffic light at the intersection of North McDonough Street and South McDonough Street, stopping on the railroad tracks.  Vehicle 2 was traveling west, on the railroad tracks.  Vehicle 2 struck vehicle 1 in the rear fender on the driver's side.  Vehicle 1 sustained extensive damage to the rear end of the vehicle.  Vehicle 2 sustained slight damage to the front cow guard.  Driver 1 did not complain of injury but was transported to Atlanta Medical Center by Rural Metro 3.  Passenger 1 complained of stomach pain and was transported to Egleston Children's hospital by DeKalb Fire/Rescue 3.  Driver and passenger 2 reported no injuries.

We'll try to find out more.

The previous story:

A 76-year-old man was taken to the hospital after a train struck a car during Friday afternoon rush hour at the South McDonough-Howard Avenue crossing near Agnes Scott College.

His name and condition were not available Friday night. Decatur Fire Marshal Stephanie Burton said the injuries did not appear to be serious.

The Decatur police issued this statement:

The Decatur Police Department is investigating a traffic accident involving a passenger vehicle and a train. The collision occurred on the South McDonough railroad crossing.  The train struck the rear portion of the motor vehicle. 

The driver of the vehicle, a 76 year old male was transported to a local hospital due to a complaint of injury.  The driver was examined on scene by members of the Decatur Fire Department.  A female juvenile passenger of the vehicle was not injured.  

The train stopped on the track, blocking the crossing for several hours.

Tell a Patch poll which Decatur rail crossing you think is the worst. And what could be done to make the crossings safter?


David Williams February 18, 2012 at 01:28 PM
Think about the train crew. Someone crosses in front of your train and you know it is going to take tousnads of feet to stop the train, even if you are only moving 20 mph. This kind of accident haunts engineers for years and there is nothing they can do to stop some one from violating a rail crossing. Trains are big and noisy, how can you not see them coming?
Steve February 18, 2012 at 04:15 PM
For BP: 1. What camera paid for by taxpayers? If there was a camera on the train, which BTW is not required, it would have been paid for by the railroad. 2. There is an event recorder on the train, as is required, and I'm sure it's being looked at. 3. The "box" was probably the module which controls the lights and the gates and it was being taken out to be examined for proper operation. 4. As always in such cases, I'm sure the crew was tested. The FRA requires it. 5. I'm not aware of such technology. 6. Trains weigh hundreds, if not thousands of tons and, even with the best brakes, they can't stop on a dime. 7. In general, train tracks are not fenced in the U.S. There are not and haven't been "lookout towers" in at least the past 50 years anywhere. 8. That is irrelevant to this incident. 9. The speed limit on the track where the incident occurred was probably between 35 and 50 mph (I haven't gone out to confirm). The timing of the gates and warning lights is set to provide reasonable warning dependent on the posted speed. The speeds are set by the railroad and the FRA in conjunction with local authorities. 10. Sorry, don't understand the question. 11. I don't understand the "hearsay" remark. All witnesses will be interviewed and a professional investigation will take place. 12. You answered that in your previous question. They have a liability interest in any accident and need to gather their facts.
Mary Paguaga February 18, 2012 at 06:22 PM
That is one scary intersection to be stopped at for a red light. At 7am last August, I sat at the light and a few minutes later I noticed, in shock, that a train was racing by mere feet from the back of my car. I was alert, wide awake after bootcamp, and had NPR on - not blaring. I neither heard nor noticed any RR xing bells nor was I aware that the crossing arm had come down inches behind me. Scared the living day lights out of me! Not surprised that something happened here, regardless of why. Poor guy & child - and train operator.
BP February 18, 2012 at 09:17 PM
Hey Steve --I really like my little yellow google map guy. Take --Agnes Scott College---plug it in and with about 10 clicks the lil' guy is standing in the crossing just a lookin' around. Barely room for him to stand between the two parallel roads. The answer to your #5. I'm not aware of such technology. Did you KNOW this was 2012 and the first moon shot was like 1967? ? My steam roller is broke down on this crossing which is clearly McDonough on Google maps ---yet none of the 74 crossings in Decatur with a couple hundred collisions since 1975 are listed as McDonough or Howard. After going through the stupid voice animated hogwash at the railroad emergency contact # what do they do if they don't know where the crossing is?
BP February 18, 2012 at 11:27 PM
Whoops Steve I found it. Thought we were in Decatur Illinois. Three prior collisions and no injuries listed in the FRA data base. But you know the tricks for that don't ya. 45 mph tack speed and 19 trains a day. Two years ago there were 59 trains a day. Where do the other 40 trains a day go now Steve? http://www.nrc.uscg.mil/reports/rwservlet?standard_web+inc_seq=1003302 279952G Federal Post-Accident 219.201 Sub Part C Testing Required: NO I.m confused here Steve. You stated in # 4. As always in such cases, I'm sure the crew was tested. The FRA requires it. #9. You state ---"""The speeds are set by the railroad and the FRA in conjunction with local authorities.""" Isn't it true Steve the local authorities don't have NO say in the matter and the trains can go as fast as they want IF the track is heavy enough and the public can kiss the railroads greedy buttoxes?
CJM February 19, 2012 at 02:06 AM
Agreed, Mary. That intersection is a mess, as is the crossing at Adair/Atlanta Ave. I'm surprised there aren't more accidents. I avoid both intersections as often as possible.
Julia Ewen February 22, 2012 at 12:21 PM
The only way to make sure that train vehicle accidents don't happen is to do a cut and lower the tracks and put a vehicle bridge over them. Yes, it is expensive, and revenues are down right now in cities all over the country because of the recession, but how much is human life worth? Will it take a $20 million lawsuit for negligence and wrongful death before the City and the railroad join together to solve this problem and do the right thing?
BP February 22, 2012 at 01:52 PM
Questions for the police 1. You work for the city ---How long would you work if you found the city was at fault? 2. 279952G N.MCDONOUGH ST has Interconnection/Preemption:Simultaneous Preemption. What aspect were the road signals at that time? 3.http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0BFW/is_6_104/ai_n27908790/ The supporting Wayside Alarms Management Systems (WAMS) office applications provide the user interface for alarm acknowledgement, initiating control functions and a Web interface to field locations. This information or equipment similiar that the tax-payers paid for would show if the signals worked properly. What did this equipment show? 4. Did the train black box show a brake attempt by the train? It takes 8/10th of a second to cross the train red zone at 20 mph. Looks like the train gave the driver 7/10s of a second.
Nick February 22, 2012 at 03:24 PM
You could also look both ways, never stop on the tracks, and if you do have to stop, stop well-clear of the tracks.
Steve February 22, 2012 at 08:19 PM
More stupid train tricks: http://www.ajc.com/news/dekalb/men-killed-by-trains-1358711.html
BP February 22, 2012 at 11:24 PM
Google map shows a big red and white railroad crossing gate right after the light Mr. Police. What does a road light have to do with the railroad signals? So the driver like jump over this crossing gate that by law had to be down 20 seconds before the train arrived and sit and twiddle his thumbs for 20 seconds? Now your investigator needs to go back to cracker jack and tell them there investigation prize don't work. And before you get somebody killed with your phoney accusations you need to find out what is wrong with the crossing signals and the connection with road signals leaving people trapped on the crossing due to no fault of the vehicle drivers.
David Williams February 29, 2012 at 03:03 PM
I don't know what could be bogus about the police report. Seems pretty simple to me. The car was stopped on the tracks and a train hit it, pretty straight forward. The take away lesson, never, ever , for any reason stop your car on the tracks. Look both ways before crossing, even if the signals are not flashing. Visibility is very good at that crossing. There are no curves in the rail line. When crossing the tracks at Atlanta Ave. I can see a train stopped at the Candler Rd crossing quite easily. The Georgia Railroad was chartered in 1835 and began operations in the 1840's. This line was present in Decatur before the Civil War started in 1861. The railroad has been a fixture in this town for over 150 years and isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Lowering the tracks in to a gulch would involve lowering the tracks from east of Sam's Crossing to the west of Atlanta Ave. Not very practical and exceedingly expensive. Who would pay for that? The railroad, the city of Decatur, the state of Georgia. The whole idea is absurd when you really start to think about it.

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