He was wearing a headset and was walking on the railroad tracks. That is a very bad combination. An 18-year-old high school student was walking along Amtrak train tracks in Auburndale, Florida and apparently didn’t hear an approaching Amtrak train. He was hit and killed immediately.
The conductor says he tried to alert the teen with no response, until the train got within 20 feet of him. That’s when the teen finally heard or saw the train and tried to jump off the tracks, but it was too late.
The 18-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene. Our condolences go out to his family for this very tragic accident.
This is not an isolated incident.
A man was struck and killed by a train last Monday at Winona State University in Minnesota. It was the third train-pedestrian fatality in the area since August. He was wearing headphones.
The train operator says he sounded his whistle for more than a mile.
In February, a 17-year-old teen was hit and killed by an Amtrak train near his Comstock Township home in Michigan. He was crossing the tracks diagonally with his back to the eastbound train and was also wearing headphones.
Nationwide it is the 18-34 age group and overwhelmingly male that is walking on the railroad right-of-way tracks illegally.
Operation Lifesaver is a nonprofit public education program to end pedestrian train collisions.
Nationwide last year, 287 people died and 453 were killed trespassing on the rails, slightly fewer than the previous year. Over the last decade Operation Lifesaver reports 5,000 have died.
In August, the Federal Railroad Administration awarded Operation Lifesaver, Inc. a $1 million rail safety grant to raise awareness about the potential hazards at grade crossings and the dangers of illegally trespassing on the railroad tracks.
In Florida, the campaign is called the “Common Sense” campaign, the message is aimed at attracting the attention of young males, most likely to be killed on the tracks. The campaign includes an interactive Web site, videos and internet ads and can be found at: www.CommonSenseUseIt.com.
There were 26 pedestrian rail trespass deaths in Florida in 2008, one of the states with the highest number of pedestrian fatalities on railroad tracks.
Many Floridians have no idea that walking or playing on train tracks is illegal and potentially deadly. Everyone can be distracted by cell phones, texting or headphones. The best advice is stay away from tracks- it’s just common sense.
If you need to cross the track – do so only at public crossing designated areas. Look for the cross buck sign. Trains are quieter than they used to be. Be sure to look both ways before crossing. You can expect a train at any time. There is no way you will be able to outrun it.