Man gets elderly driver out of car stuck on tracks moments before the car is struck by train
The man was reluctant to leave the car, but a stranger came along just in time to get the driver off the tracks.
SALISBURY, N.C. (WBTV) - An elderly man sitting in his car on train tracks with a train approaching was pushed away from his vehicle moments before it was struck by a train. The man was reluctant to leave the car, but a stranger came along just in time to get the driver off the tracks.
James Vermillion of Rowan County says he isn’t a hero, but that he’s just the kind of guy that helps people, and on Sunday morning he had a potentially life saving opportunity to do just that.
Vermillion was on the way to work just after 5:30 a.m. He was headed over the railroad crossing in Salisbury at Henderson Grove Church Road when he saw a car that was stuck on the tracks. An elderly man was sitting in the car.
“I get out, walked towards where the vehicle was, said ‘Hey, are you alright?’ He was like ‘my car is stuck, I gotta get my car out,’” Vermillion said. “He couldn’t back up. His tires were spinning. He couldn’t go forward, he couldn’t turn, he couldn’t do anything, but he was trying. I saw his tires spinning, rocks getting kicked up, but he wasn’t going anywhere.”
The driver didn’t want to leave his car on the tracks, despite urging from Vermillion.
“I get him out of his car, he’s talking for a minute, and the track’s arms comes down, I said sir, we need to get away from this vehicle immediately, he was like no, I need to get my car out of the way, he starts turning back. I had no time to react,” Vermillion said. “I pushed him away from the tracks…only got about 15-20 feet away from the tracks before the train came through and wrecked the entire side of his vehicle.”
The small SUV was struck by a freight train. Damage was heavy to one side of the vehicle, but no one was hurt.
James Vermillion doesn’t know who the man was, but hopes he’s doing okay. He also says he won’t hesitate the next time he sees an opportunity to help someone in need.
“People need to help each other,” Vermillion said. “No one wants to help these days, it’s nice to be able to help somebody.”
NCDOT is reminding drivers who may find themselves stuck on the tracks at a railroad crossing that they should immediately get everyone out of and away from the vehicle and the tracks, and then look for the big blue signs that are posted at every crossing. The signs, referred to as the Blue & White Emergency Notification System, include an emergency number and specific location of each crossing. DOT says it’s better to call that number before calling 911, unless someone is hurt.
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