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St. Augustine Woman: No Signals Warned Of Oncoming Train

11:12 AM, Dec 28, 2011   |    comments
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ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Would you be able to stop in time if a train was about to hit you?  A St. Augustine woman was able to hit her brakes on time.  This happened on South Holmes Boulevard, near West King Street in St. Augustine.

Laura Zbinden said she was driving north on South Holmes Blvd., approaching the train tracks.  She said the gates were up, and there were no flashing lights or bells.  Right when she was about to cross the tracks, that's when she slammed on her brakes.  She saw a train coming.  "Just scary that it could have been really tragic," she said.

Zbinden said if she didn't see the train, it probably would have hit her.  "The train was probably like less than five feet away from crossing the intersection, the lights weren't going, the barriers weren't going down, nothing," she said.

Husein Cumber of the Florida East Coast Railway told us in a phone interview, "A FEC train crew reported that a crossing protection system malfunctioned in St. Augustine."  He said until they fix the problem, which could take days, they have all conductors under a stop and flag order.  "What that means is every train will actually stop at a crossing, make sure the protection arms have come down before proceeding through the crossing," he said.

He added, if necessary, crews will get out and stop traffic.  Cumber said there are about five crossings west of Holmes Blvd. that could be impacted by this problem.  He added these are low density lines.

Leaving people like Zbinden on edge and on high alert.  "I know schools get out at that time, people are picking up their kids driving," she said.

Cumber said anytime you cross tracks, even after they fix this problem, whether or not the signs are up or down, always look both ways before crossing the tracks. 

If you see a problem at a railroad crossing, report the problem at 1-800-342-1131.

First Coast News

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