ELLSWORTH, Maine — A woman who drove into the path of a slow-moving tourist train Monday afternoon was lucky to escape with only minor injuries, according to police and witnesses.
Gabriella Just, 25, of Ellsworth had been driving east on Davis Street at 2:10 p.m. when she apparently failed to notice the Downeast Scenic Railroad train coming towards her, said Patrol Officer Kelvin Mote of the Ellsworth Police Department. The train hit her 2005 Subaru Legacy sedan in the driver’s side, crumpling it, and spun the car around.
When police arrived at the scene, Just had already gotten out of her vehicle and did not need to go to the hospital.
“The car is totaled. It looks like a can opener went right down the side of it,” John Joy of Lincolnville, who was at a house near the crash scene, said. “She’s got a bump on her head. Other than that, she’s fine. We told her to go buy a lottery ticket.”
The train was passing at probably 10 miles per hour, he said.
Mote said that the train was slightly damaged and the conductor and others onboard shaken up after the accident.
“I’m sure it was a pretty weird experience for them,” he said.
That crossing is not marked by lights or a gate because it is not a major crossing, Mote said.
“The train has a light on the front, a very loud horn and a bell,” he said, adding that the conductor was using all of those at the time of the crash.
He said that no one right now is being charged in connection with the accident. Police have cited driver inattention as a cause of it. But Joy said that if a person was playing the radio loudly in their car, they might not notice an oncoming train. He also thinks that the city or someone should cut back the trees, which might visually block the train.
“I believe they need lights at every one of those crossings,” he said. “There’s no lights there. Just a sign that says ‘railroad crossing.’”
Ellsworth Police Department, Ellsworth Fire Department and Hancock County Ambulance all responded to the report of the accident.
BDN writer Bill Trotter contributed to this report.