Monday evening could have ended in tragedy if Colleen Daigle, a teacher at Edmonds’ Holy Rosary School, hadn’t been in the right place at the right time.
“I was driving down Dayton Street with my daughter in the passenger seat,” Daigle said. “We were heading toward the waterfront, and as we approached the tracks, the car in front of us suddenly took a hard left turn right onto the railroad tracks. It only took a few seconds to sink in that this was really strange and that something was terribly wrong, so we quickly turned around, parked in the gravel directly adjacent to the tracks, and ran over to the car to see if we could help.”
What Daigle found was a car hopelessly stuck on the railroad tracks with a dazed elderly female driver still inside.
“She looked really confused and disoriented. She got out of the car, ran her hands along it, and told us she couldn’t figure out why her car was stuck. I was very concerned for her. She seemed really shook up,” Daigle said.
Daigle called 911 right away, only to find the line busy. She tried three more times without success, and finally another onlooker got through. In the meantime the driver, seemingly oblivious to the danger of being on the railroad tracks, announced that she was getting back in the car to try once again to drive it off the tracks.
“I couldn’t help thinking that a train could come through any minute, and that time was running out,” Daigle said. “She was clearly confused and moving pretty slowly, and I was afraid that if she got back in the car we’d never get her out again.”
By then the 911 operators had instructed the onlookers to do whatever was necessary to get the driver away from the tracks and to just leave the car where it was. Daigle took the driver by the arm and led her away from the tracks.
“That was when we heard the horn of the approaching northbound Sounder train,” she added. “I think it was slowing down to make a stop in Edmonds, and fortunately it was able to stop in time, coming to a halt approximately 50 feet from the stranded car. I was very relieved!”
By this time Edmonds police were on the scene to remove the car from the tracks and assess the driver’s condition. According to police spokesperson Sgt. Josh McClure, the driver was cited for inattentive driving and the vehicle was towed from tracks.
— By Larry Vogel