Updated: Portland driver charged after colliding with Amtrak Downeaster

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PORTLAND — A city man was charged with three violations Tuesday after he drove into the Amtrak Downeaster at the crossing on Brighton Avenue near St. John Street on Jan. 27 around 8 a.m.

Derso Mekonen, 56, whose address was not released, was issued summonses on a charge of driving to endanger, two charges of endangering the welfare of a child and a civil violation for failure to obey a railroad safety device, Police Lt. Robert Martin said.

Mekonen allegedly pulled around a row of stopped vehicles in an attempt to beat the train, Martin said.

His children, ages 5 and 9, were in the 2008 Nissan Sentra with Mekonen. They were unhurt, but Martin said Mekonen was taken to Maine Medical Center for treatment of non life-threatening injuries.

No injuries were reported by passengers aboard the train.

The Boston-bound Downeaster, train No. 682, was able to stop quickly, but the front end of the Nissan was hit as the sedan was pushed away from the tracks. The vehicle came to rest just off Brighton Avenue in front of the crossing gate.

Traffic was diverted from Brighton Avenue for about two hours, but the street had reopened by 10 a.m., Martin said.

Amtrak reported the Downeaster was running about 40 minutes late.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

A 2008 Nissan Sentra that struck the Amtrak Downeaster on Brighton Avenue in Portland on Jan. 27 was pushed off the street and away from the railroad tracks. (Dan D’Ippolito / For The Forecaster)

Police investigate the Jan. 27 collision in Portland between a 2008 Nissan Sentra driven by Derso Mekonen and the Amtrak Downeaster. Mekonen faces charges for allegedly trying to beat the train through the Brighton Avenue crossing. (Dan D’Ippolito / For The Forecaster)

Two children, ages 5 and 9, were unhurt Jan. 27 after a car driven by Derso Mekonen struck the Amtrak Downeaster as it crossed Brighton Avenue around 8 a.m. Police said Mekonen pulled around stopped vehicles to beat the train through the crossing. (Dan D’Ippolito / For The Forecaster)

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Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.
  • jack bauer

    The suspect should be changed with child endangerment, as well, and arrested.

  • Horseswaggled

    So the driver has no mouth therefore illegal hear say from cops on an open investigation who were fed what the railroad wanted them to be fed and the media to parrot is all the public gets?

    18 0.031343 837470X ST ME CUMBERLAND PORTLAND BRIGHTON AVE 0 0 0 0 0 GT 16 1 30 YES 4 14,050
    25. Quiet Zone  24 Hr How can this possibly be a no train horn crossing with no quad gates and no median barriers??
    Google map 43.6636300,-70.2853300 How do you beat a train when the sight lines on all four quadrants FAIL FHWA sight line requirements for crossings?

    Downeaster with 30 mph speed limit?

    Was there health problems? Was there vehicle problems? WHERE are the real witnesses? Why did our cops let the railroad get off with the train video? The train black box? The signal black box? What was the conductors blood/drug test show?

    • Sunny Side

      It was captured on video. Two videos. There were witnesses. Google it.

      • Horseswaggled

        Amtrak video takes special equipment to download —Amtrak trains have to have video to run legally—Amtrak train left in 40 minutes — Witnesses the railroad runs in —Somebody lies