Police: Man said he didn’t see light or train

A 23-year-old North Carolina man escaped injury — and possibly much worse — after he tried to drive across a railroad crossing and his vehicle was struck by a train Saturday, police report.

Dylan M. Bottorff of Cherry Point was not hurt when his 2011 Chevrolet Colorado was struck by the CSX train pulling 53 cars at the Sixth Street crossing, according to Officer Blake McCrary’s report.

The crash was reported at about 4:40 p.m. during a period of heavy rain.

Bottorff was traveling east on Sixth Street and told police he did not see the overhead flashing lights or the northbound train when he began to cross.

He said he continued driving over the tracks and saw the train before turning his steering wheel to the left to avoid it, police said.

Bottorff’s vehicle was then struck on the front of the passenger side.

The train then pushed the vehicle north along Indianapolis Avenue. The impact also caused Bottorff’s truck to strike a 2005 Dodge Caravan owned by Raymond Ruelas that was parked along the roadway.

There were no occupants of the van, and no injuries were reported.

The crossing was closed for about 45 minutes as police cleared the area. Traffic was diverted north to cross at Ninth Street and was backed up at the city’s crossings south of the incident.

A witness told police she was about 50 feet from the incident and saw Bottorff drive across the tracks.

She told police it did not appear as though Bottorff sped up to beat the train and that it appeared as if he did not see it.

The witness said she saw the flashing lights and heard the train’s horn.

Police also spoke with the engineer of the train, who said there was video of the incident. He said he saw Bottorff’s vehicle come to an abrupt stop and slide onto the tracks before being struck by the train.

Calls to CSX were not returned Sunday.

The driver’s side front panel of Bottorff’s truck was torn off and the passenger side front panel had a large area of damage from the impact

Ruelas’ vehicle had damage to its driver’s side front panel. Bottorff was cited by police.

Police Chief Bill Abbott said motorists should be sure to pay attention to traffic signals and look both ways before crossing the railroad even if lights aren’t flashing.

“It’s not worth the risk,” he said.