Crossing mishap tragic reminder of railroad dangers

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A tragic accident that took the life of a Brookhaven woman thispast week is a reminder of the importance of paying attention torailroad crossing gates.

For whatever reason Wednesday afternoon, Fannie Black choose toignore the railroad crossing gates that had lowered on MonticelloStreet. The southbound Amtrak caught Black’s car in the passengerside door – dragging her Daewoo station wagon to the CherokeeStreet crossing. She died a few hours later at King’s DaughtersMedical Center.

Not too many years ago, outrunning trains at downtown crossingswas considered just part of Brookhaven driving – maybe even asport. The downtown crossings were regularly blocked for seeminglyendless periods with slow-moving trains at all times of the day. Itwas frustrating.

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With The DAILY LEADER’s downtown location on Railroad Avenue,our staff has witnessed its share of accidents and close calls overthe years.

We remember one particular accident many years ago, days beforeChristmas that claimed the life of a local woman. At that time dualrails of northbound and southbound tracks came through town.Apparently frustrated with a slow-moving southbound freight train,the woman immediately took off across the tracks as the final carof the southbound train passed. She never saw the northbound trainthat appeared at the same instant. The back seat of her car wasstuffed with wrapped Christmas gifts.

The Canadian National Railroad corrected the congestion problema few years back by removing the second rail and eliminatedswitching in the downtown area. The time for waiting on passingtrains has decreased significantly – now rarely for more than a fewminutes.

Of late we have noticed more and more drivers ignoring downtowncrossing signals in a hurried attempt to cross before an oncomingtrain reached the crossing. Why the sudden increase? Train trafficcongestion has not increased, so only those guilty know the reasonswhy.

Following Wednesday’s deadly accident, hopefully others willtake the tragic event as a reminder to relax and enjoy the shortdelay from the fast-paced, hectic world we live in today – so thatthey and their family can enjoy tomorrow.