One dead in light rail collision
A 26-year-old woman was killed after her vehicle collided with a light-rail train Thursday morning on Hebron Street near South Boulevard, the first fatal wreck involving the Lynx Blue Line.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police said Ashley Riveron was driving her 2001 Ford Explorer down Hebron Street toward South Boulevard, when she failed to stop for the crossing arms and signal at the Lynx Blue Line station. Riveron’s vehicle entered the path of the train and collided with it.
Police said Riveron died at the scene. None of the 39 passengers on the train was injured, police said. Speed was not a factor in the crash, though police said it’s not known if Riveron was impaired.
The crash caused all lanes on Hebron Street between South Boulevard and Demark Road to close at 10 a.m. Thursday, as CMPD investigated the crash.
The crash affected travel on the Blue Line. Light-rail users were still able to catch the train in both directions between the 7th Street and Archdale stations, according to CATS spokesperson Juliann Sheldon. In the affected area, buses transported passengers between the Archdale station and the Interstate 485 station, with stops at each station.
Emmanuel Brown, 63, a nearby resident, stood across the street from the wreck Thursday afternoon in disbelief of the scene.
“It’s very, very sad that someone would lose their life while trying to cross the train tracks,” Brown said.
Brown uses the light rail often to commute to work and said he has witnessed several close calls on the tracks between cars in a rush to beat the railroad arms before an approaching train. He urges drivers to take caution when approaching the safeguards.
“If you want some excitement, go downtown and walk around,” he said. “Don’t try to beat the train.”
Thursday wasn’t the first time a vehicle collided with the light rail. In 2012, four people were injured in the same area when a customer test driving a car from a nearby dealership went around the railroad arms and was struck by the light rail. All four survived.
CATS said last year there were 48 near misses involving a light rail vehicle, with four occurring at the Hebron Road crossing. So far this year there have been 19 near misses, with five at Hebron Road.
CATS considers an incident a near miss if a Lynx operator applied the break to avoid making contact with a vehicle, pedestrian or animal.
The light rail operator involved in Thursday’s crash, Charles Jones, has undergone a standard post-incident evaluation, CATS said. Jones has worked for CATS since 2007.
In 2017, there have been three other incidents when a Lynx vehicle struck a person, animal or vehicle.
LaVendrick Smith; 704-358-5101; @LaVendrickS