Danger at the tracks

It was about 9 PM where the Norfolk Southern (formerly Southern RR) crosses McLean Road in the far NorthEast part of Charlotte.

There are two tracks at the crossing and as part of the improvements to increase the speed of Amtrak trains, this crossing is equipped with a barrier to prevent cars from driving around crossing gates.

A new passing siding was also recently added back (the Southern RR had previously been double tracked in this area I believe)

Sarah Weagba Doe was riding as a passenger in a car and apparently concluded that the crossing gate was malfunctioning (probably after a freight train cleared the crossing and the gate did not raise back up). She got out of the car, manually lifted the gate, the car crossed the tracks, and as Ms Doe crossed the tracks to get back in the car, she was struck by Amtrak train #79, heading South on its way to Charlotte.

She was 63 years old when she died.

Charlotte Observer story

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11 Responses to Danger at the tracks

    • CC1s121LrBGT says:

      I just read that and recommend that everyone take a moment to read that wiki entry.

      It reminded me of how grateful I am to live in this great country. It ain’t perfect, but we can talk about its faults and by persuading others work to make it closer to perfect. There are a lot of places on this planet that are far far worse.

    • Fred Stiening says:

      I wonder if she was related to the late Jane Roe

  1. haiti222 says:

    The funeral arrangements: http://www.bostonsmortuary.com/obits/obituary.php?id=698153

    Both her second and third names are Liberian.

    I wonder if this was her, just a year ago: http://allafrica.com/stories/201606071045.html

    • Fred Stiening says:

      I noticed that her middle name seemed to be Liberian, but beyond that I didn’t find anything about her, and no further human interest story. If she was a recent immigrant, I could see how she might not realize how inappropriate that was, or that trains go 70 mph.

      The location of the funeral home is consistent with her being a Liberian immigrant.


  2. countess robini says:

    the observer story says she was a passenger — passenger — in the car. story also says that after she lifted the gate, the car drove over the tracks and made it to the other side. that was the point at which ms. doe was struck and killed by the train. my working theory is that the driver told her to get out and move the gate. or that she was impaired. or both.

  3. briand75 says:

    Do we need to pass more laws to legislate human behavior? What kind of person gets out of the car and manually operates a crossing gate? Signs of mental illness or is it her education?

    Quiet zones and wicked blind curves – do we impose this on automobile traffic? Trains are critical and are part of the backbone of commerce. These idiots will blame the railroad.

  4. CC1s121LrBGT says:

    It occurred at 9:13 pm local time, over an hour after sunset. It was clearly dark at the time. One would expect the train had its headlight on. Perhaps Ms Doe saw it and froze? Oh dear, it sounds too cliche to have actually happened that way.

    • Fred Stiening says:

      According to the schedule, the train was running late. As part of this improvement to the tracks, a number of other existing grade crossings were permanently closed, a cause of anger by the local residents.

      There is a bend in the tracks just North of the accident site. In the best case, the train would not have been visible for more than maybe 15 seconds. It’s entirely possible a freight train might have still been blocking the sight lines and the Amtrak train appeared with no warning (other than the crossing gates). That type of crossing protection against going around gates is typical where local governments demand “quiet zones” where it is against the law for trains to blow their horns


      • CC1s121LrBGT says:

        It is a safe bet that no government officials will be held accountable. Worst case, the local taxpayers will take a financial hit.

        In the days leading up to Hurricane Irma, Florida governor Scott announced that across the state local officials would be keeping Google maps up to date in real time to accurately reflect roads that were closed and roads that were flooded. Google maps and other GPS devices already show traffic speeds. Garmin warns you when you are approaching an intersection with revenue generating cameras. Apps like FlightAware show you the positions and speed of commercial and private aircraft around the world. Phones also alert you with Emergency warnings.

        It would not be hard for these trains to report their position and speed in real time and for a GPS to show estimated arrival time at intersections… I recognize it is an idea that I am fawning too late for Ms Doe.

    • Fred Stiening says:

      A small clarification – the police declared her dead on the scene at 9:13 PM – the incident happened earlier. This story had enough uniqueness that AP put it on their wire and it got national coverage

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