16. Drinking Is Fun

Charles, a 29-year-old painter, tried to beat an -car freight train across the railroad tracks yesterday and . Fortunately for Charles and his two friends, the hit the bed of his pickup truck. The of the impact separated the rear of the from the front. The rear end of the flew about 200 feet west of the front . The train was traveling at 50 miles an through an industrial district. It was fully loaded appliances and new vehicles from the east coast. were no mechanical arms or flashing lights at railroad crossing -- only a stop sign on side of the two-lane road.

The accident occurred 4:30 p.m. on a sunny afternoon. Charles and two co-workers had stopped at a neighborhood liquor at about 3:45. There they had bought a of bottled beer that was on sale for .95. By the time they got to the railroad , they were all feeling good. They saw the coming and they heard the horn blowing.

"I going to stop," said Charles. "But Tommy told that the train wasn't even close. He said if he was driving, he could drive over tracks, make a U-turn, drive over the tracks , and then drink a whole beer before the arrived.”

When the police arrived, all three friends sitting on the ground under a shade tree 50 feet from the front end of the . None of them were even scratched. The train crew suffered no damage or injuries. The engineer shook his head.

“They think it's exciting, but 's just stupid,” the engineer said. “These guys might in jail for a little while. But I you within a year they’ll be out drinking driving and racing trains again.”

The police charged with driving under the influence, running a stop , causing an accident, reckless endangerment, and littering—broken beer were all over the place. They charged his friends with drinking in a moving vehicle and .

A city official said there are no plans install flashing lights and mechanical arms at this , partly because not enough accidents occur there and because the city does not have sufficient funds pay for such safety equipment.