Train strikes, kills two in Kannapolis

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 30, 2009

Staff report
KANNAPOLIS ó Two rest home residents were struck and killed by a passenger train in north Kannapolis Friday evening.
Randy Davis, 52, and Billy Richardson, 39, residents of Britthaven of Kannapolis, died around 6 p.m. when an Amtrak train struck them near the railroad crossing at 18th Street, Kannapolis Police Lt. Milton Davis said.
The train’s engineer told police Richardson appeared to be kneeling down on the tracks and Davis appeared to be pulling Richardson off the tracks.
“We have no idea as to the reason they were on the tracks,” Davis said.
Rounding a curve at 65 mph and seeing the men, the engineer “did what he was supposed to do,” Davis said, blowing his whistle, sounding his horn and braking. But he was unable to stop before hitting them. The train traveled another 350 feet after impact.
An Amtrak spokeswoman said the train that hit the men was the Piedmont, which travels between Charlotte and Raleigh. It carried 100 passengers headed to Raleigh on Friday. None were injured.
A Britthaven employee who answered the telephone Friday evening said only that the facility would issue a statement.
The statement, from Britthaven of Kannapolis Administrator April Roberts, said residents and staff there were “deeply saddened by this tragic accident. We extend our heartfelt sympathies to the families as a result of this accident.”
The facility at 1808 N. Cannon Blvd. is offering counseling to residents, families and staff, the statement said.
“Rest homes strive to support a home like environment and the rights of competent residents to leave the facility at will,” the statement said. Our facility has not experienced a loss of life in an outside accident.
“We will continue to work with community resources for the safety of all our residents.”
The railroad crossing is about two tenths of a mile from the rest home. Davis, the Kannapolis Police lieutenant, said he wasn’t sure whether the men who died were supposed to be inside the rest home at the time of the accident, or whether they were free to come and go there.
“We’re going to look into that and find out why … they weren’t at Britthaven,” he said.
The men’s bodies were taken to Rowan Regional Medical Center “for further forensic tests,” police said in a statement. There was no indication of foul play.