Yes, yes! It was me. I took on a train and survived.
It’s not often that a car occupant just “walks away” from a collision with a train travelling at full speed. Well, I actually ran away. In the movies, the car always explodes into a huge ball of fire and deadly metal shards. So I bolted and cowered in the ditch.
Nothing happened. The train had disappeared around the corner, my ski gear and bits of car were spewed all over the road in a 100m radius. What was left of the Subaru was quietly idling away, like it was waiting for me to jump back in and continue on to the ski-field, a mere graze to its integrity. Amazingly the door opened perfectly and I reached past the airbags and bent bits to turn the engine off.
I’m forever indebted to Subaru for building such strong and safe cars. My Outback was only 4 weeks old and had to be totally written off. A shame, but I owe my life to the Subaru Outback with the latest in safety design, strong passenger cage and the fact that all of the airbags went off, even the little knee protectors! I got a wee scratch on my hand, some whip-lash in my neck and some gnarly bruising, but was back on my bike within a couple of days.
The police charged me with careless driving. I pleaded guilty because I know I made an error in not stopping where I could see the train (it was a rural crossing with no lights, barriers or bells). Many people have since shared similar experiences of not noticing a train, and I’m shocked that I, “Mr Adventure”, a supposed expert at managing risk, was not aware of the train until it was too late.
This prompted me to research how it is possible for so many people to hit, or to be hit by trains by accident. I’ve found some great results to share with the police, KiwiRail and Transit NZ, to hopefully save others from this experience. I’ll also include this research in my new book, “Eating Dirt”, on the shelves August 2012.