Couple Barely Escape Train Crash

By: Jason Colthorp Email
By: Jason Colthorp Email

On New Year's Eve just after six p.m., a car crossed the center line on Okemos Road and crashed head-on with another car near Moore Park.

The car that was hit came to rest in the middle of the road, squarely on the train tracks and a train was coming.

"I don't remember the crash," said Tonnie Temple. "I just remember two large bangs."

Tonnie's husband John had just picked her up from work at Younkers at Meridian Mall. Scott Fulford and his dad were right behind them four car lengths back.

"Next thing you know the car's up in the air, the wheel flew off and it dug into the train tracks," said Fulford.

"We were on the train tracks," Tonnie continued. "The engine (is) still going and I can hear it grinding on the wheel base."

A mangled mess is all that is left of the Temple's 2004 Chevy Impala.

The reason they're still alive is because they weren't in it when it was hit by a train.

"It's traumatic," said John Temple of East Lansing. "At least a couple days of not being able to sleep very well and reliving the crash in your mind."

Fulford says he and his dad immediately ran to the car to help after the crash. He then called 911, and then--

"I didn't even get finished telling them what happened and the train whistle was blowing."

"Then the whistle blew again and I said 'Dad, tell them to get out.' The wife got out on her own accord but we had to get the husband out," said Fulford.

Tonnie also realized the driver's side door was jammed and tried to get her husband out on her side.

"I lifted the console and he said 'I can't get out that way!' Tonnie explained. "I said 'You're coming!' And I just kind of pulled him out the door."

"And within a minute of us getting them out, the train came through and flicked the car about 150 feet from there," said Fulford as he motioned down the tracks on Okemos Road. "It was an instant."

"It was there and then it was gone."

Meridian Township police hope more people will help out and be good samaritans, like Fulford and his dad.

"To put themselves in harms way, to rescue people they don't know-- I'm very proud of those people to step up and do the right thing and be good samaritans," said Sergeant Don Laund of the Meridian Township Police Department.

"You gotta help," said Fulford. "You see a problem you gotta go."

John and Tonnie are fine, despite a broken left thumb for John.

As for the driver who started this whole mess, he hasn't been identified or charged-- yet.

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  • by Anonymous on Jan 4, 2011 at 02:35 AM
    People need to start getting those black box recording devices so they can have records of everything that happens to their cars in these accidents. It is real helpful in accidents and hit and runs.
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