Fatality brings railroad safety concerns in Guilford Co.

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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.”



  • Savannah Barrett

    Has anyone realized that the train coming west had hit someone in the Durham area just hours prior to hitting the body of this poor guy in Greensboro? I feel for the people who are killed by trains but I ‘d like to know as well, why are so many people still walking on or near the tracks? And how about the people on the train? Maybe not hurt physically but scarred I’m sure. And lastly, the train conductor/engineer??? Especially the one coming from the Durham area??? Hit 2 people, one of whom was already deceased by a different train??? What’s happening???

    • God is good

      I believe its the other way around. The train hit a person in Gbo then another in Durham/Raleigh. Either way, I dont understand why someone would want/need to walk on the tracks anyhow, unless your wanting to die..

  • Mark Stabler

    It would be interesting to know the results of the follow-up investigations including if the victims were drinking or using drugs. Some of the deaths involved vehicles and individual that obviously tried to cross tracks when crossing arms were down and warning lights and bells were ringing. Sometimes we take risk because we are late or because we just don’t realize the consequences of our actions. I wonder to, if some of these cases might be due to decisions individuals have made regarding their lives.

  • SherryB

    Walking on or near train tracks is suicide ready to happen..Same for driving around the arms at crossings..I can’t muster much sympathy for people who do this and lose their lives because they brought it on themselves..I do feel for the train engineers however, they have to live with this for the rest of their lives and there was nothing they could have done to prevent it..

  • OhioInvestigator

    Apparently, you are missing some responsibility on the part of the railroads for some injuries and fatal incidents. EXAMPLE: Take a look at our Interstate highways. How many people do you see running across Interstates? Very, very seldom. Why? Take a look and you will see that the Interstate highways are FENCED! There are fences, at least 4 feet high, on both sides of those highways. The fences are there to keep out animals AND people—and it works. Look at railroad tracks. Mile after mile of NO fences separating the trains from animals and people. I have seen many high speed train tracks that go very close to schools and there is no fencing. Fences may not stop everyone from crossing and walking on the tracks, but, given the record of fences along Interstate highway, they are highly effective. So, we might ask, “why aren’t there fences along railroad tracks?” ANSWER: Somebody—think railroads, don’t want to pay to put them up and keep them maintained. It’s the same old story of money–profit, before safety. Also, every railroad crossing should have security cameras. If a pedestrian or a motorist violates the law and ignores ringing bells, flashing lights and lowered gates, give them a hefty fine. BUT, if the security cameras capture the warning devices not working as a train approaches and goes through the crossing, fine the railroad! The Bottom Line is there is a high level of lack of accountability in our country. Let’s be fair and hold both pedestrians / drivers AND the railroads accountable for injuries and deaths.

    • dewey

      common sense would be a cheaper, better option….just last month on an Amtrak in Ohio, we were stopped on the tracks for 2 and a half hours because some drunk moe decided the tracks was a great place to park his pickup truck….95% of railroad related deaths could be stopped by remembering that no human, with the exception of the engineer, can stop a train and sometimes that requires at least a quarter of a mile

      • OhioInvestigator

        dewey, I agree that it can easily take a train a quarter of a mile to stop when put into emergency braking. However, I have to question your 95% figure. Where did you get that figure? There are grade crossing incidents and then there are trespassing incidents. Let’s take a closer look at railroad incidents. Yes, people walking or doing anything other than driving or walking over a grade crossing are trespassing on private property. They should be arrested and charged. If that happened a lot, maybe people would think twice before trespassing. But I fail to see why you wouldn’t agree with fencing railroad tracks. The fencing on the Interstates is sturdy, long-lasting and keeps animals and people off the roadway. How often do you see people walking along Interstates or crossing them? So, common sense says that trains running on tracks are EXTREMELY dangerous, can’t stop easily or swerve to avoid hitting something AND people and trains need to be separated. Bridges and underpasses separate people and trains. But, there aren’t enough of them. Then, I would mention the incredibly stupid and EXTREMELY dangerous situation at railroad crossings without active warning devices. Every crossing could, AND SHOULD, have an active warning. There have been many inventions in the last 50 years that could have provided (1) a relatively inexpensive active warning at crossings and (2) many had no moving parts and could be solar-powered. But, the U.S. railroad industry loves their 1872 Track Circuit and they don’t want to spend a penny on safety improvements. NOTE there is almost zero GPS tracking of trains! . So, all over the U.S., we have crossings with nothing put a crossbuck sign. AND, a high percentage of those crossings are sight obstructed with trees, hills, curves, buildings or other solid obstructions. When you were on that Amtrak train in Ohio, did you notice how the tracks go through a tunnel of trees in a high percentage of the state? Those sight obstructions hide trains and that is especially dangerous at unguarded crossings. What if I told you that the Federal Railroad Administration has a database of 1,000’s upon 1,000’s of Total Activation Failures at railroad crossings all over the U.S. Do you trust those lights and gates at crossings? If you saw that database, maybe you would get a different perspective on just who might have some responsibility for injuring and killing people at grade crossings. POSTED in locomotives and cabooses by RR employees a long time ago: UPHILL SLOW, DOWNHILL FAST, TONNAGE FIRST, SAFETY LAST! Maybe they knew something a lot of Americans don’t know, but should know.

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