The driver whose car was struck by a train last Friday could face a year in jail for the crash, Portland police said.

Derso Mekonen, 56, of Portland was issued summonses on two counts of endangering the welfare of a child and failure to obey a railroad safety device, police said Tuesday. He was also charged with driving to endanger.

Each of the endangerment charges carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine. The failure to obey a railroad safety device is a traffic infraction.

The driving to endanger charge also carries a penalty of up to a 180-day license suspension, as well as a fine.

Police spokesman Lt. Robert Martin said footage from the Amtrak Downeaster and from a nearby convenience store shows Mekonen traveling at a high speed along Brighton Avenue heading toward downtown Portland.

Martin said cars were waiting in front of the safety barrier when Mekonen went around the traffic on the left and slammed his brakes. His 2008 Nissan Sentra struck the safety barrier, which bounced upward. The car came to a stop with its front bumper exposed to the oncoming train, which struck the car about one second after it came to a stop.

Mekonen was taken to Maine Medical Center with injuries that were not life-threatening after the crash. The two children in the car, ages 5 and 9, were not Mekonen’s, and were not injured. They were released to their mother after being checked out by paramedics at the scene.

“I’m not sure what he was trying to accomplish by doing it,” Martin said.

Matt Byrne can be contacted at 791-6303 or at:

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