After being struck by a train while crossing a set of New Jersey Transit tracks, the driver is being ticketed for ignoring a railroad crossing. Randa Sayegh, 55, of Yonkers was driving with her husband, 58-year-old Bassam Sayegh when they were struck by a train while crossing the Midland Avenue tracks in Elmwood Park. The couple says there was no bell or barricade to warn them of the train until they were on the tracks, NBC reports. An NJT engineer, however, says he saw the vehicle drive around the gates and onto the tracks.
Randa told NBC "The gate from the other side come down, and I hear the train coming and I said to my husband, 'The train is hitting us.' And the minute I say the words, the train hit us." Her husband was ejected from the vehicle and landed about 30 feet away. He was knocked unconscious, received 50 stitches in his left leg, and still needs a skin graft.
Randa has been ticketed for ignoring a railroad crossing, but she asserts that the incident is "not my fault." Bassam insists that his wife would not have bypassed a safety gate. "Obviously there was something wrong with that equipment that made her keep going which wasn't clear," he said to NBC.
According to New Jersey Transit, however, the train engineer said he saw the vehicle go around the safety gates. He blew the horn and applied the safety brakes. The safety gates were activated 41 seconds before the collision, NJT says. This time far exceeds federal safety regulations.
According to NBC, the Midland Avenue crossing is the most accident prone in the tri-state. Elmwood Park Police Chief Michael Foligno says that he has seen drivers misjudge the dangers at the crossing. There have been 30 accidents, six injuries and two deaths at the crossing since 1975, the Federal Railroad Administration reports. "I believe what makes it so dangerous is the oblique angle of the tracks here is wider than your normal regular crossing," he said to NBC.