RENNERT — A 21-year-old Shannon man died Monday when his vehicle was hit by an Amtrak passenger train in Rennert, burst into flames and was pushed for about a half mile, according to the state Highway Patrol.
Alberto Davila III, of 745 McQueen Road in Shannon, died at about 5:14 p.m. when his 2000 Nissan was struck after he drove around the crossing gates of a Rennert Road railroad crossing, according to the report by Trooper S.C. Hunt.
Davila was attempting to beat the train across the tracks when the train, engineered by 58-year-old Tony Reed, of Raleigh, struck the vehicle, according to the Highway Patrol. The vehicle caught on fire and was dragged four-tenths of a mile down the tracks, according to the report.
Damage to the train was reported at $3,000.
“The vehicle was totaled. There’s no way anyone could have survived that,” said Sam Locklear, chief of Shannon’s Volunteer Fire Department, which assisted Rennert Fire Department.
Locklear said that people often maneuver their vehicles around the gates at the crossing, which is in the heart of downtown Rennert, in an attempt to beat the train.
“When the guardrails come down people just stop, look and take off,” Locklear said. “I’ve seen it with my own eyes. … People have been doing it for years — it’s bad in that area.”
The Robesonian was unable to reach Hunt, the investigating trooper.
The newspaper did speak with an Amtrak official, who promised that a return call would be made, but that had not happened by today’s deadline. Information was not available on how many passengers were on the train, where it was headed, or how long the trip was delayed.