Driver escapes high-speed train collision

August 21, 2008 7:59:39 AM PDT
Connie Carroll is breathing a well-deserved sigh of relief after narrowly escaping her car moments before a train barreled into it.Carroll was driving in her Saturn on Ellis Road in Durham when she stopped for the flashing lights at a railroad crossing. A driver in a pickup truck rear-ended her vehicle, forcing it into the crossing as a train approached.

"Oh, boy! This isn't where I want to be-- in the middle of the tracks stalled," Carroll said as she described the harrowing moment before the crash. "It just happened so fast. It was really no time to think. And I thought, okay, if I could just get it restarted. If I could just get it off the tracks, but the car wouldn't restart."

To make matters worse, Carroll's seatbelt was jammed. She desperately tried to free herself. As the train inched closer, the seatbelt gave way and she leaped to safety.

"I got the door open just in time with a few seconds to spare but not too many," said Carroll.

She watched the car she had just paid off explode. Her belongings were scattered in nearby trees, including her purse where she had stowed away thousands of dollars in cash. She planned to pay a roofing company for repairs to her home after work. Fortunately, a Durham firefighter found the purse dangling from a tree branch without a single dollar missing.

Carroll considered it a miracle.

"[She's] extremely lucky. But, also extremely unlucky," explained Henry Wills, Carroll's friend. "It's one of these things when you can be in the wrong place at the wrong time."

But, in this case, time was on Carroll's side or perhaps something more. Carroll said the sky seems more blue and the air is a little sweeter these days.

"I would say so," said Carroll. "[I'm] living it day by day. God was on my side. My mom passed away a few years ago and I think she was my angel."

Carroll was uninjured. She said the driver who hit her vehicle was extremely shaken and apologetic. Durham officers cited him for failure to reduce speed to prevent an accident.

Carroll also told Eyewitness News this isn't the first time she's cheated death. A poisonous snake nearly bit her last summer. But, her beloved dog intervened and was wounded. The dog survived the poisonous bite.


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