Nova Scotia

Teen who survived SUV crash with train ran for help, despite injuries

A quick-thinking teenage girl who was in an SUV that collided with a CN train late Monday morning near Enfield, N.S., was able to crawl from the vehicle and run to a nearby home for help.

Firefighters needed to use equipment to extricate driver from vehicle

An SUV landed on its side in the ditch next to the train tracks. (Jack Julian/CBC)

A quick-thinking teenage girl who was in an SUV that collided with a CN train late Monday morning near Enfield, N.S., was able to crawl from the vehicle and run to a nearby home to seek help for the driver still trapped inside.

The female driver was later rescued by firefighters and airlifted by helicopter to hospital with what CN said were non-life-threatening injuries.

Mick Greener, who lives near the accident scene in the small community of Oakfield, said he heard a knock on his door and found "a brave little girl" who was in shock.

"I think she's a miracle. God was with her, 'cause she managed to get out of the car and come to my house and then run down the road, and that's all with injuries," he said. "She's a tough little girl, going through something like that."

Greener gave the girl some water and went to help the woman trapped in the SUV. It had landed in a ditch on its side. Windows were shattered and its roof and hood were badly damaged.

"I couldn't get at her but I could see that she was breathing," he said of the driver. "A tragedy took place and God willing the woman will be fine."

A LifeFlight helicopter was visible close to the crash scene. (Jack Julian/CBC)

Andrea Montgomery, who lives close to the tracks, said she saw a LifeFlight helicopter land in a yard near her home and paramedics load the woman, who lives in the area, into it.

Montgomery spoke to the girl as well and said she appeared to have some cuts and minor injuries, including swollen knees. The girl, who Montgomery said is 13, was later taken to hospital by ambulance.

"By the time I got down there, she was waiting for the paramedics to come. The police were talking to her and trying to get her calmed down, she's young," said Montgomery. "She said they were going to the grocery store. She said she was very sore."

CN said the train was travelling west when it collided with the vehicle at the private crossing. The track intersects with North Fork Road before it turns into Christopher King Lane near the Oakfield Golf and Country Club.

"It's kind of a narrow road. And it looks like [the train] just pulled [the SUV], slid it down the tracks and it probably rolled," Montgomery said.

CN investigators are now at the scene and say the crash happened at 11:42 a.m. The company is looking into what happened. The Transportation Safety Board of Canada is also investigating.

Train tracks cross a section of North Fork Road. (Google Maps)

Halifax Regional Fire and emergency crews were called to help and the Enfield Volunteer Fire Department was at the scene. 

Brendan Elliott, who speaks for Halifax Fire, said firefighters needed to use equipment to remove the woman from the vehicle.

"It wasn't an easy extraction by any means," he said. 

A tow truck pulled the vehicle out of the ditch mid-afternoon. CN said the rail line should reopen in a few hours. 

A CN worker takes track measurements near the accident site. The vehicle was in the ditch obscured by brush. (Jack Julian/CBC)

According to data from Transport Canada, there are not any barriers or flashing lights at the crossing. The agency's database said there are an estimated 10.86 trains and 30 vehicles that go through the area every day.

"It's a dangerous spot. It's a spot that really, there's no barriers or anything like that," said Montgomery. 

History of collisions at crossing

The listed road speed is 30 kilometres per hour. Transport Canada's database said the maximum train speed at the crossing is about 104 kilometres an hour. 

Greener said people can often hear a train's horn and look for a light that signals if one is approaching. 

"I feel pretty shook up with what happened here. It's a tough thing to see," he said. "It's not a good day."

The Transportation Safety Board has records of two collisions between vehicles and trains in that area in the past 10 years. 

The most recent was on Oct. 26, 2018. The Transportation Safety Board said an eastbound CN train struck a pickup truck that stopped just before the main track. There were no injuries.

Another incident happened in January 2012 at the Frenchman's Road crossing near Oakfield. An eastbound Via Rail passenger train hit the trailer portion of a tractor-trailer. No one was hurt and the train remained on the tracks.


With files from Jack Julian and Shaina Luck