22-year-old killed by train early Monday
A 22-year-old man is dead, struck by a train as he attempted to cross the railroad tracks at the at-grade crossing on East German Street in Shepherdstown early Monday morning. The name of victim has not been released, pending notification of next of kin.
Shepherdstown Police Officer Sgt. David Ransom is the lead investigator into the incident. He says the victim was struck as he tried to beat the northbound train across the tracks, which are owned and operated by the Norfolk Southern Railway Company.
Emergency units were notified of the incident around 2:39 a.m. by the engineers on the train, according to police and railroad officials. Responding to the scene were units from the Shepherdstown Police Department, the Shepherdstown Volunteer Fire Department, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Shepherd University Police Department and the Harpers Ferry Police Department.
This reporter, who lives near the scene of the incident, witnessed first responders as they discovered the body, which was found laying in the gravel track bed on the west side of the railroad, north of German Street, near a green chain link fence on the property of the Shepherdstown train station. According to police, the crossing gates were functioning as normal at the time of the accident. Police have yet to interview the engineer of the train.
Upon discovering the body, officials cordoned off the area and began their investigation into the incident. Investigators grappled with heavy rains as they conducted their investigation, forcing them to set up a tarp over the scene to keep dry. By 3:45 a.m., the train, which had been stopped, departed, heading north. At 4:46 a.m., the body was removed from the scene and transported to the morgue at Jefferson Memorial Hospital.
Investigators have left the scene, but the accident remains under investigation by the Shepherdstown Police Department and the Norfolk Southern Police Department.
According to Norfolk Southern spokesman Robin Chapman, the engineers aboard the train during the accident continued on to Hagerstown where they were interviewed by railway police at Norfolk Southern’s Hagerstown offices.
“It’s a tragedy for the family and our sympathies go out to the family,” said Chapman in a telephone interview on Monday morning. He urged the public to heed rail signals at crossings. “People need to be alert, trains can come at anytime”, said Chapman.
– POSTED 5:55 a.m., with edits at 7:28 a.m. to reflect press release below and current situation, another edit at 9:18 a.m. to reflect new information regarding the crossing gates and engineer, another edit at 10:35 a.m. to include comments from Norfolk Southern spokesman.
UPDATE – 7:28 a.m. – The Shepherdstown Police Department issued a press release on the incident which reveals that the victim was 22 years of age. It reads in whole:
“On Monday, January 2010 at about 2:39 a.m., the Shepherdstown Police Department was notified of a pedestrian struck by a train in the area of the railroad crossing located on East German Street near Audrey Egle Drive [and South Mill Street]. A 22 year old man was deceased at the scene.
The preliminary investigation shows that the male was attemtping to cross the tracks at that location at the time of the accident.
Officers from the Harpers Ferry Police Department, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and the Shepherd University Police Department assisted at the scene along with the Shepherdstown Volunteer Fire Department.
The identity of the deceased is being withheld pending the notification of the next of kin. The accident remains under investigation by the Shepherdstown Police Department and the Norfolk Southern Police Department.”
Earlier updates below:
UPDATE – 3:58 a.m. – The train departed around 3:45 a.m., heading northbound, all rail crossings in Shepherdstown are now open. Crews are still active on the scene, conducting their investigation into the incident.
ORIGINAL BRIEF – 3:07 a.m. – Emergency crews are responding to a pedestrian struck by a train near the railroad crossing on German Street in Shepherdstown, near the train station. This reporter, who lives next to the train station, was one of the first people on the scene and witnessed a body lying motionless on the side of the trackbed near a street sign.
Emergency crews responded to the train station around 2:45 a.m. on Monday morning.
All the railroad crossings in Shepherdstown are blocked by the train, which is stopped. The tracks are owned by the Norfolk-Southern Rail Road.
Details are scarce at the moment, and this story will be updated as more information becomes available.