Kelso police arrested a Castle Rock woman Friday night on suspicion of driving her pickup on the main line train tracks underneath the Cowlitz Way Bridge.
At 8:53 p.m., an officer dispatched to the scene saw a silver Toyota Tacoma driving along the BNSF Railway tracks, according to a police report.
Authorities alerted the railroad to stop trains bound for the area, and the officer attempted to use his patrol car’s emergency lights and PA system to halt the vehicle. The driver looked in the officer’s direction but kept moving, the report stated.
The officer followed the pickup on North First Avenue for six more blocks until the vehicle finally stopped just north of the Kelso Train Depot. According to the report, the driver was trying to get off the tracks, but the tires were deflated.
The driver, Christine Cherrington, 64, of Castle Rock told the officer that she didn’t know how she got onto the tracks and appeared confused about her location, according to the report. She said she was going to the Kelso Safeway from her home in Castle Rock and got onto the train tracks near Ostrander Road, according to police. (That seems unlikely. Ostrander is about two miles north and would have required her to drive through the Rocky Point train tunnel and all of North Kelso to reach the Cowlitz Way Bridge.)
Cherrington also told the officer she wasn’t under the influence of alcohol or medications that would impair her driving ability, but she did recently have a stroke. However, after failing sobriety tests she was taken to the Kelso police station.
At the station, Cherrington allegedly admitted that she had a rum and Coke at around 8:30 at home, but thought she was fine to drive.
Cherrington was arrested on suspicion of first-degree negligent driving and was taken to her home and cited.
BNSF spokesman Gus Malonas said the incident resulted in minor interruptions to train schedules and no damage to the tracks.