The driver of a 2009 Hyundai Tucson that was sent flying by a southbound freight train at Atmore’s Main Street crossing early Friday morning, February 17, was arrested by city police and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol.
Dmitri Hansen, 22, of Monroeville, was arrested after the incident, during which the vehicle was airborne for an entire block before it crashed to earth, upside-down, at the Trammell Street crossing.
Police reports show that Hansen was “unsteady in his balance, had trouble following directions and had the scent of alcohol on his breath” when questioned after the incident. The degree of his intoxication, as measured by sobriety tests, was not available.
Hansen and a passenger, fellow Monroeville resident Tawny Carter (age unavailable), were able to escape from the car and make their way to safety just moments before the Tucson was struck by the 109-car CSX train around 1:45 a.m.
According to Atmore Police Department reports, Hansen told authorities he and Carter had been enjoying themselves at Wind Creek Casino, where he reportedly admitted that he “had been drinking.”
He reportedly told officers that when the two left the casino and headed into Atmore, he missed his intended turn and made a U-turn on Main to try again. He missed the turn a second time, instead driving onto the train tracks, where the car became stuck.
According to police reports, as the highballing freight bore down on the stranded vehicle, the conductor applied its brakes and repeatedly sounded its air horn.
Hansen and Carter scrambled from the car, which wound up lodged against a crossing signal, a block from where it had gotten stuck, and were not injured.
Even with its brakes locked at the time of impact, police reports show that 34 cars rumbled through the crossing before the train was able to stop.
Photo by Tom Tschida