Pedestrians Walking Railroad Tracks Common in Area of Fenton Train Accident
Neighbor says people use tracks as a shortcut.
Walking the railroad tracks is common where a teenager was struck and killed by a train Monday night, neighbors say.
Police said a female teenager was walking on the tracks when an eastbound train struck and killed her. The incident happened around 7 p.m. on the tracks west of Silver Lake Road and the US 23 overpass. Police have not released any other information.
Fenton resident Erika Swanson, who lives by the tracks, says people walk along the tracks near Silver Lake Road and the US 23 overpass often.
"I have even walked them in order to cross over to Torrey Road as a shortcut," she said.
Swanson said the train blows its whistle nearly every time around the former Tee-Bonez building.
"They are fast," she said.
She said at least three trains pass by the area every evening, and didn't notice anything different about the train accident Monday night in Fenton.
"I can't recall hearing anything out of the ordinary," she said
Fenton resident Alexis Burton said she walked by the scene shortly after it happened. She tweeted that she had trouble sleeping Monday night.
Michigan law prohibits walking, riding, driving or being present on the right-of-way of a railroad or a railroad yard. The law lists a number of exceptions, such as legitimate passengers, railroad employees and authorized representatives of the railroad. A violation of this section is considered a misdemeanor and is punishable by imprisonment for not more than thirty days, a fine of not more than one hundred dollars or both.
Trespassing along railroad rights-of-way is the leading cause of rail-related fatalities in America and about 500 trespassing railroad deaths occur each year nationally, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The department has also released these key tips regarding railroad safety.
- Always expect a train! This is especially critical where there are multiple tracks and the sound of one train can mask the sound of a second train on the other set of tracks.
- Cross the tracks only at approved crossings. Crossing tracks at any other location is illegal and puts you at risk of tripping on rails or slipping on icy ballast. There is no margin for error if a train is approaching.
- Don’t try to beat a train at a crossing. It’s almost impossible to accurately judge the distance and speed of an oncoming train.
- Don’t stand close to the tracks. A train is at least three feet wider than the tracks on each side. In addition, a fast moving train may kick up or drop debris.
- Don’t ever walk along tracks on bridges or in tunnels. You may not hear an approaching train and since clearances in bridges and tunnels can be tight, you may not be able to escape an approaching train.
- Don’t attempt to jump or climb on, over, under, or in between rail equipment. Even an idle freight car can be dangerous.