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Teen texting, driving survives after being struck by train in Dalton

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A teenager, who was allegedly texting while driving, found himself on a railroad track in Dalton with two trains bearing down on him after he disregarded the down gates and activated lights Thursday morning, officials said.

But only one train struck his vehicle, and the 19-year-old managed to escape alive, police said. Now police are using the incident to send a warning to other drivers about texting: It can wait.

The incident happened shortly before 8:10 a.m. on McFarland Avenue, according to Dalton police. Luis Hernandez, of Croy Street, told an officer he was texting and driving just before he was struck by a passing train, police spokesman Bruce Frazier said in a news release.

Witnesses told police Hernandez was driving a silver Honda Accord eastbound on McFarland Avenue when he crossed the railroad tracks, Frazier said. The gates were down and the lights were activated as two trains were approaching.

Hernandez managed to miss the southbound train but his car was hit in the back quarter panel by the northbound train and dragged a short distance, Frazier said. Hernandez managed to walk away with cuts and bruises.

He was transported to Hamilton Medical Center to be checked out, but he didn't complain of any injuries at the scene, Frazier said. He was treated and released from the hospital.

Police cited the teen for texting and driving, disregarding a railroad crossing, and window tint violation.

“All things considered, today was this driver's lucky day because this crash could very easily have been deadly if the car had been struck by the train even a tenth of a second sooner,” Frazier said. “No matter what message you're sending or receiving, it can wait. Please pull over before sending or reading texts or emails. It can wait."