The teenage driver was impatient, police said.
The CSX railroad crossing arms had lowered early Sunday near the intersection of Tank Town Road and Charles Street in Matthews.
But instead of waiting, the driver snaked around the barrier.
“He decided to beat the train and he lost,” said Cpl. James Flack of the Matthews Police Department.
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The train clipped the rear of the 1995 Ford Windstar the teen was driving, causing it to spin, Flack said.
The teen wasn't seriously injured. But the family minivan was totaled.
Police did not identify the teen, but said he was about 17 or 18 years old and lives near the site of Sunday's incident. Charges are pending. April Bethea