Bus hit by train in Gastonia

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GASTONIA, N.C. - A train hit a bus in Gastonia on Monday with a dozen people inside.

Witnesses said the driver of the bus tried to cross the tracks when the warning arms were down.

Witness Anne Wilson cried as she watched Medic helping a woman holding her head. The woman was one of a dozen people on the bus when the train crashed into it on North Church Street.

“The train was coming,” Wilson said. “It was there. Why do you want to take any chances with your life?”

Two of the bus passengers were taken to a hospital with minor injuries.

Passenger Dino Little was one of the group of patients on the bus headed to Phoenix Crisis Counseling Center. He said he remembers watching the bus driver, Robert McClinton, approach the crossing.

“I looked up and the arms were coming down on the train tracks,” Little said. “I could hear the train in the distance. And for some reason, he decided he was going to go through them.”

He said McClinton then backed up to get more room for a left-hand turn.

“It's just a lapse of judgment,” Little said.

Eyewitness News tried to talk to McClinton about what happened on the tracks, but he didn't want to talk to us.

The CEO of Phoenix Crisis Counseling said they checked McClinton's driving record and he had no blemishes.

He also said they did a criminal background check, but Eyewitness News found McClinton has 21 convictions ranging from robbery to assault on a female dating back to 1981 in North Carolina.  The CEO said he's now checking with human resources.

McClinton is no longer driving for the company, until the investigation is complete.