Lack of English blamed for train-truck wreck in North Carolina

| 7/23/2007

Police in Kings Mountain, NC, say a driver’s lack of understanding of the English language appears to have led to a violent wreck between a train and a tractor-trailer.

Truck driver Ricardo Ercia was crossing several train lines in town at South Battleground Avenue and Oak Street when he didn’t obey a traffic sign calling for drivers to go through a second rail line crossing. With Ercia’s trailer resting squarely on an active rail line, the train plowed through his trailer, knocking spools of thread from the trailer, police told Land Line Magazine.

Jerry Tessneer, captain at the Kings Mountain Police Department, said the wreck caused a lunchtime spectacle in the town of about 10,000. No arrests have been made or tickets issued in the incident, Tessneer said.

“It’s still under investigation,” Tessneer told Land Line on Monday.

The wreck caused no serious injuries, though Ercia complained of a hurt back, and the “train conductor had some glass in his face,” Tessneer said.

Ercia apparently understands very little English, Tessneer said, and didn’t realize that a sign urged drivers to move forward to avoid blocking the rail line.

The intersection has been the scene of a few major wrecks in recent years, Tessneer acknowledged.

“We’ve had several accidents there,” said Tessneer, sounding puzzled. “It’s not confusing if the person could just understand English.”

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer