Trespasser Fatalities

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Trespasser Fatalities

Postby Jeff Smith » Fri May 11, 2018 11:49 am

Interesting piece by a retired railroader:

Please keep the discussion respectful; I know it's an emotional "trigger" for many on here. It's just so interesting to see the perspective of an railroader. It's very heartfelt. I'm going to make sure my daughters read it.

On, our policy is to report it, but remember that the victim left behind a family no matter how stupid the mistake or intentional act was that lead to the strike. After all, we all make stupid choices. But as the author notes, "it’s hard to respond to well-intentioned folks, expressing their sympathy with families of those who lose their life, by asking them to have the same degree of empathy and compassion for the train’s engineer and crew".

Following a double-fatality trespasser strike May 9 near Richmond, the news outlets and social media were awash in their ritualistic gasps of astonishment as to how two individuals could possibly have found they way into the path of a 79 MPH Amtrak train and been killed. Police and nearby residents noted that teenagers frequent the right-of-way, either as a shortcut to get from one neighborhood to another, or simply walk the tracks, earbuds connecting them with their source of entertainment, while disconnecting them from the reality of the peril lurking from behind—or in many cases, coming right at them.
Having been involved in a half-dozen fatalities during my 35-year career, and painfully listening to my prematurely aging 33-year-old locomotive engineer son recount the three trespasser strikes he’s endured in his comparably short 15 years with Amtrak, it’s hard to respond to well-intentioned folks, expressing their sympathy with families of those who lose their life, by asking them to have the same degree of empathy and compassion for the train’s engineer and crew. No one seems to realize that we are the ones who witness the last precious seconds of human lives, who scream helplessly in our locomotive cab, shouting curses heard by no one other than ourselves, simultaneously petitioning the Almighty with plaintive prayers to intercede through divine intervention to prevent the inevitable, while at the same time begging him to keep all wheels on the rails, the train in one piece, and our passengers and crew safe from injury. It’s something you never want to experience if you can avoid it.

It is said that when you die, your entire life flashes before your eyes. When your train takes the life of a trespasser, THEIR life plays out on your consciousness for the rest of YOURS. A continuous loop, repeating itself over and over again, in the middle of the day, the middle of the night. You torture yourself sometimes, wondering if there wasn’t something you could have done. Had you not been running as fast, you might not have intersected with the trespasser. He or she would just have been another blur on the periphery. If. If only.

Why must people be on the tracks anyway? What’s the fascination? And what’s with the latest fad of having celebratory images of yourself, your friends or your loved ones, in the middle of a set of steel rails? I was once told that it’s the mental image formed as the tracks grow closer and caress each other approaching the horizon. It’s the symbolic hope that life will imitate them—even with its ups, downs and curves, it will likewise be endless and terminate in a glorious sunset.
Next stop, Willoughby
~Jeff Smith (fka "Sarge") :: RAILROAD.NET Site Administrator
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Re: Trespasser Fatalities

Postby Literalman » Sat May 12, 2018 3:41 pm

Photo fad on the tracks: indeed. In a store window in Fredericksburg, Va., I saw photos of people on the tracks (they appeared to be dancing). I was a rail commuter, passing by in hours when the store wasn't open; otherwise I would have said something to the store owners. Another time I was in Ashland, Va., and saw several families posing children on the tracks on the CSX mainline. I took photos of my own and sent them to CSX asking for railroad police involvement there, but I did not get a reply. If you see something, say something, they tell you, but when you say something, is anybody listening?
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Re: Trespasser Fatalities

Postby ConstanceR46 » Wed May 16, 2018 12:00 am

honestly i think a simple and low-cost solution would be fencing. prolly wouldn't deter teens * around but it would be enough for the hipster moms to realize no; those tracks aren't a safe place for a picture, sharon
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Re: Trespasser Fatalities

Postby Ken W2KB » Tue May 22, 2018 9:20 pm

An 8 foot chain link fence on both sides costs about $200,000 per mile, so for a 100 mile railroad would cost $20 million.
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Black River Railroad Historical Trust :: [/url]
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Re: Trespasser Fatalities

Postby ExCon90 » Wed May 23, 2018 2:33 pm

Plus the cost of repairs when people cut through it.
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Re: Trespasser Fatalities

Postby amtrakhogger » Wed May 23, 2018 5:11 pm

Ain't gonna happen. 20 minutes after the installation crew leaves the job site, someone will cut through the fence.
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