Woman killed after driving car into path of train

By Julie Fann
star staff

A woman was killed Wednesday afternoon in Johnson City after she drove her vehicle into the path of a train at the intersection of Woodlyn Road and Smith Street.
   The accident happened around 2:30 p.m. when Crystal Pearl Paul, 23, 3 Mel Circle Apt. #6, Johnson City, was driving south on Smith Street. A train was traveling east toward Carter County, and Paul apparently ignored railroad lights and tried to drive across the tracks.
   Sgt. Diane Mays said the railroad lights and bells were activated when police arrived on the scene. Paul was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.
   Authorities also searched the scene for a child they believed may have been inside the vehicle because a car seat was secured in the back seat and a child's belongings, including a doll, a children's book, a small backpack, and clothing were strewn across the railroad tracks, but police never found the body of a child.
   Later, Mays said Paul's 3-year-old and 7-year-old children were at home at the time of the accident.
   The Johnson City Police Department, Johnson City Fire Department, Watauga Volunteer Fire Department, Washington County Sheriff's Department and the Washington County EMS responded to the scene.
   Several bystanders, including Randy Garland, 145 Woodlyn Rd., said the railroad lights at the intersection of Woodlyn and Smith rarely work properly.
   "I've stopped and the lights have been going and I sit there for five minutes and nothing will come. Either that, or I see the train coming up the railroad tracks and nothing's going on with the lights. Something's got to give. This is the second accident in the past 3 to 5 years," Garland said.
   The accident remains under investigation.