It’s something I think about every time I go past that crossing now
In December 2018, Jeremy Jeffries was driving a train through the King Country region, when a young mother and baby in a car neared the tracks at a private level crossing running across a driveway.
“She was coming out of the driveway and didn’t check before crossing. I thought she had seen me, but she hadn’t, and she pulled out in front of the train,” says Jeremy.
“I jumped on the horn and activated the train’s emergency braking system. The mother panicked and stopped halfway across the tracks in front of me, then reversed back out of my way.
“I missed her car by mere metres. The only reason I knew I hadn’t hit them was because there was no sound of impact.”
As they disappeared out of Jeremy’s view, he stopped the train and looked back to see he had blocked them in their driveway.
“I walked back towards the car a bit agitated. But when I got to the car, I saw she was in tears with the baby in the back. My mood switched to one of concern, so I made sure they were okay and walked back to the train. I was pretty shaken myself,” says Jeremy.
Jeremy says when people take a chance at a level crossing or don’t take the necessary precautions, he wishes they would think about the effect a near miss has on the locomotive engineer in the train.
“That person has to deal with the trauma of a near miss, as well as the pedestrian or vehicle driver.
“It’s a real heart-in-your-mouth scenario. It’s someone making a split-second decision and not really thinking about the effect it’s going to have on others.
“You may get across nine times out of ten, but on that tenth time it could cost you your life.”
Jeremy says he still sees the mother and child from time-to-time because their house is by the tracks – it is always a chilling reminder of the incident.