Truck driver charged in Monroe chain reaction train crash

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Truck driver charged in Monroe chain reaction train crash

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by AMY COWMAN / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @amywcnc

WCNC.com

Posted on May 1, 2013 at 5:09 PM

Updated Friday, Nov 1 at 8:26 PM

MONROE, N.C. -- Crews are hard at work cleaning up the mess in Monroe after a cargo train collided with a big rig in Union County on Tuesday. Meanwhile, some locals say it was an accident just waiting to happen.
"We were sitting in the office just working away and all of a sudden it sounded like a bomb went off," said Mike Reese.
 
Reese was working at the Union County Habitat for Humanity office when the train crash happened. When he came outside Reese saw the tractor trailer had been hit by the train.

(Click here for aerial photos of the scene)

"He had crept into the railroad crossing to try and make the light as it changed and he couldn't see up the railroad tracks because of the trees that the train was coming," said Reese.
 
Police say the driver of the 18-wheeler stopped on the tracks trying to make the light. When he tried to pull up to avoid the train, he hit a car. That started a chain reaction crash with four cars and another tractor trailer involved.
 
Reese says this stretch of Old Charlotte Highway has always been an issue. It only has two lanes, and some say that's not nearly enough for all of the traffic it gets.
 
 "I think they've calculated about 80,000 cars a day travel right through this intersection," Reese said.
 
And says he's shocked this hasn't happened before
 
"Most people are real good about obeying the crossing, but the reality is just an accident waiting to happen."
 
On Wednesday, CSX crews were on the scene stopping trains and sending up flares to alert drivers. That's because the crossing arm is still down and could be for a couple days.

Reese is glad they're taking extra precautions now and that the accident didn't turn out worse.
 
"The fact the truck was hailing PVC pipe and not fertilizer or gasoline-- because they travel this road too, so the fact the product was not hazardous or flammable, we could have had a real mess here," said Reese.
 
The driver of the 18-wheeler was charged with failure to stop at a railroad crossing. Four people were sent to the hospital with minor injuries and have been released.

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