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Fatality brings railroad safety concerns in Guilford Co.

GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. — A fatal train accident in Greensboro over the weekend is shedding light on a greater problem in the Piedmont.

Police said an Amtrak train headed eastbound fatally struck 36-year-old Ricardo Aleman near East Market and Dudley streets Sunday.

Minutes later, a second train hit the Aleman’s body. Authorities said the second train was headed west from Raleigh to Charlotte and carrying 72 passengers.

“It scares me because I’m thinking, what makes you not hear the train?” said Venesa Riggans, a witness at the scene.

Investigators still haven’t answered that question, but railroad safety experts said accidents happen all the time in our area.

In 2013, Guilford County had the highest number of train incidents in 10 years, according to the Federal Railroad Administration Office of Safety Statistics. There were 18 accidents reported, including three fatalities.

Vivian Speight-Bridges, executive director of North Carolina Operation Lifesaver, said a lot of accidents happen when people illegally walk on train tracks and don’t pay attention to their surroundings.

“The engineer, once he sees you, all he has is his horn. If you’re equipped with ear buds or head phones, you’re not going to hear him,” said Speight-Bridges.

Now, the City of Greensboro and railroad safety organizations are using billboards to educate the public to stop people from putting their lives at risk.

“If you survive a hit by a train, you’re certainly not going to be the same person you were before,” said Speight-Bridges. “Walk away. Stay a distance away so that you can’t be hurt.”

 

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