Durham, N.C. Amtrak Train Collides with SUV Killing Brothers Inside | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

Recently, two young brothers tragically lost their lives after an Amtrak Train in Durham, North Carolina hit the SUV their mother was driving. The passenger train operated by Norfolk Southern Railroad hit the trapped SUV near the intersection of Ellis Road and Angier Avenue.

In what appears to be a terrible accident, the boys mother, Deborah Bingham, was driving the SUV when she got stuck between the train track‘s crossing arms while waiting in traffic. What transpired next was a panicked and horrifying moment that ended in the tragedy as the train smashed into the vehicles with its occupants inside. According to authorities, the two children were killed instantly.

Although no charges have been filed, this fatal railroad-crossing incident has remained under investigation. Witnesses of the wreck report that the mother was trying to save her children when the Amtrak passenger train came rolling through at close to 80mph as it struck the right-rear quarter panel of the Ford Exporer.

A released 911 call told the dispatcher that Bingham was trying to get off the track when the crossing arms lowered. An eyewitness said, “She was trying to cut through, and she tried to back up. She could not. She was blocked. She was forced to stay there, and the train hit her.”   

According to Norfolk Southern Railroad spokesperson Robin Chapman, “vehicles should normally be able to break through crossing arms when they are down.” The railway official when on to say that, “the gate’s activation system and lights appeared to be working properly.”

Within the Raleigh News and Observer article about the wreck, it mentioned that a surveillance video from nearby New York Mini Mart showed the train approaching the intersection before the crash. It went on to quote the man working the convenience store, Ahmed Naji, who said, “there are often close calls at the crossing, that people are going by the street and the train has the road closed, so they have no choice but to stop in the middle of the road,” Naji said.    

There are no words to describe the loss and sorrow being felt by the boy’s family. They will be sadly missed by friends from their nearby school they attended. Our prayers and thoughts are with the Bingham family in this time of terrible loss and tragedy. The boys were noted by school officials as “being very bright and hardworking students” and “having been very well-liked by their classmates.”

North Carolina State acknowledges that it wants to alter this particular intersection and that 11 such crashes have been reported there since 1975 according to the Federal Railroad Administration. According to official federal statistics, the U.S. has approximately 227,000 highway-rail grade crossings – 140,000 are at publicly owned highways and 87,000 are at privately owned roads. Overall, train-vehicle collisions are the second leading cause of rail-related fatalities in the United States as stated by the FRA data. Nearly one-quarter of all crossing collisions involve the motor vehicle striking the side of a train that is already fully occupying the crossing.