Driver: GPS led her to train tracks moments before Amtrak's Downeaster slammed into carBy JASON SCHREIBER
Sunday News Correspondent
November 18. 2017 7:20PM
EAST KINGSTON — A driver unfamiliar with the area escaped from her car moments before it was slammed by the Amtrak Downeaster train early Saturday night after she says her GPS directed her to turn onto the tracks.
The train was carrying 56 passengers when it hit the Subaru just before 5 p.m. on the tracks along Depot Road.
East Kingston patrolman Charles Rodolakis said neither the driver nor the train’s passengers were injured.
The car was flipped onto its side and sustained heavy damage, but the train wasn’t damaged and was expected to continue on its way north as soon as emergency crews cleared the scene.
The driver, who declined to give her name, said she was returning to a family’s home and thought her GPS was turning her onto Route 108. She said it was dark, she wasn’t familiar with the road, and didn’t realize she had actually turned onto the tracks until she became stuck.
“I was saying, ’What is that noise?’ I then got out of the car to see where I was and I saw that I was on the tracks. I was so shocked by the whole thing,” she said.
Rodolakis said a neighbor was working in his garage and saw the car’s lights and quickly went over to warn her to get out. The woman said she heard another person yelling to get away because the train was coming.
“This is an unfamiliar road to me. It’s because I had missed New Boston Road. I was looking and I couldn’t see beyond a certain feet because of the darkness,” she said, adding that she didn’t even notice the train crossing signs because she was focused on trying to orient herself with the location.
The woman said she watched the train hit her car, but there was nothing she could do to get it off the tracks.
Rodolakis said it was clear that the woman was confused and didn’t know where she was before the crash.
Neighbor Ed LeClair said he was working in his garage when he heard a strange noise out on the tracks and saw the lights. He said he’s lived there for 15 years and this is not the first time someone has driven on the tracks.
He said he went over and told the woman that the tracks were live and that she needed to get out right away because a train could be coming.
“No sooner did I say that then ding, ding, ding. The light came on for the train. There was no doubt in my mind she was going to get hit,” he said.
The car was towed away from the tracks shortly before 6 p.m., but police, fire and rescue personnel remained at the scene while passengers waited to resume their trip.
The train’s conductor declined to comment at the scene.