Family member of Remount Road deadly train crash speaks out, calls for safety improvements

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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – We’re hearing from family members of one of the three people who died in a fatal train versus car crash over the weekend. Three people died, a fourth was seriously hurt and taken to a local hospital. Viccarra Coker says her daughter had a full life ahead of her.

Family members of Tiasia Newton spent time Monday afternoon walking the area surrounding the Remount Road railroad crossing where their family member and loved was killed in a train versus car accident over the weekend.

Newton’s family spent time walking the area, taking pictures and mourning the loss of their daughter, sibling and friend attempting to process the crash that happens just 48 hours prior taking the life of three individuals.

“It’s a lot, it’s a lot but that’s just dangerous. My baby was happy and doing very well for herself and she was riding in a car and her life is done,” says Viccarra Coker.

Newton and two others died around 3am Saturday morning after the car they were traveling in was hit by a train. Tiasia Newtown, Danielle Branton and Reshana Lambright were identified as the victims and a fourth person was taken to a hospital.

Newton’s mother Viccarra Coker says her daughter lived right down the road from the spot of the accident and had a 2-year-old child. Coker says her daughter and was living a good life and that the accident was unfair.

Coker says every time she has drove through the intersection she has felt unsafe due to the amount of traffic. She also believes safety improvements need to be made to railroad warning signs at the intersection to prevent anyone else from dying.

Local and federal officials are investigating a deadly train crash that left the three girls dead. Fire officials say they responded to the scene around 3 a-m to find a vehicle had been hit by the train.

Railroad safety officials say 50% of the state’s train crashes have happened at crossings with lights and warnings like those at Remount Road.

Between January and August of this year, there have been 35 train crashes state-wide. Saturdays crash on Remount Road is just the latest in the Lowcountry.

“You always need to expect a train, trains come on tracks at anytime, 24 hours a day,” says Janice Cowen, State Coordinator with Operation Lifesaver South Carolina.

Saturday’s crash is the first at the crossing. Cowen says drivers always need to be alert when crossing railroads.

“Look and listen for the train,” says Cowen. “If the gates are down, don’t drive around them. If the lights are flashing, make sure you are stopped and don’t proceed.”

In 2019, Cowen says there were 60 train-pedestrian crashes in South Carolina. The number dropped significantly during COVID-19 but is trending higher with more people back on the roads.

“Of the 35 crashes we’ve had this year, 15 have had injuries and we’ve had two fatalities,” says Cowen. “Again, that’s through the end of August.”

Cowen says the reason for crashes range from drivers trying to beat a train to cars getting stuck on the tracks.

“If their car is stalled or stuck, to first make sure that they get out of the vehicle whether they think a train is coming or not,” says Cowen.

Charleston County has lead the state in train crashes over the last 3 years according to Cowen. Cowen says it’s easy to get complacent with railroad crossings when you’re used to crossing them and says 50% of all accidents happen at crossing with active warnings.

“If you’re in a community with active train tracks, you may hear the train often and not think it’s at your crossing,” says Cowen.

Three people left dead and a fourth is seriously injured. Cowen says drivers have to be more aware of the warnings.

“Trains are on tracks, anytime of the day or night, everyday of the year,” says Cowen.

In a statement, Amtrak says it is cooperating with local authorities including the North Charleston Police Department as they work to identify the cause of this weekend’s crash.

The North Charleston Police Department is investigating the cause of the crash.

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