WINGATE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – Heart-stopping video showed yet another train versus vehicle collision in Union County on Thursday.
Chadly Drye, Wingate’s interim police chief, says he barely reached the rail crossing at North Main Street before the crash.
“In the time that I could leave here and go right there, the crossing bar was coming down, and the train struck the truck,” said Drye. “We’re talking less than five or six minutes.”
The landing gear of the tractor-trailer got stuck on the tracks. This an issue the town has been dealing with for a while; the last time was in January 2023.
“It’s like every time I hear that train whistle, our offices are here, and I’m thinking is it going to happen again,” added Wingate Town Manager Brad Sellers.
Sellers said one of the first calls he made after the accident was to NCDOT. There is a long-term plan to flatten the North Main Street crossing, but that work will start in the summer or fall of 2023.
Until then, there is a short-term fix.
“Signage will be going up on North Main Street to prohibit thru trucks, and that should happen in the next couple of weeks,” said Sellers.
The investigation of the June crash is ongoing, but police did arrest the driver of the truck, Patrick Rainey, and his passenger Dandris Lakes.
Both were charged with felony possession of cocaine and felony possession of a Schedule I controlled substance. Investigators found cocaine, Psilocybin (magic mushrooms), marijuana, and an open container of alcohol in the vehicle.
Authorities hope the future means avoiding more scenes like this one in June.
“We thought obviously the large sign boards would help, but the guy that got stuck last night was coming off 74, and he passed a large signboard saying no clearance,” added Sellers. “I guess he assumed he could make it.”
Wingate Police and N.C. Highway Patrol did speak to Rainey at the scene.
Drye says he, another officer, and a trooper determined the driver was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The investigation is ongoing.