More than three hours after a pedestrian was struck and killed by a train at 6 p.m. Saturday near the intersection of Elm and O’Neil streets in Alvord, investigators are still attempting to identify the victim. According to witnesses it looked like a teenage boy.
The boy was walking south on the train tracks, just north of the crossing on O’Neil Street when he was struck from behind by the southbound train, witnesses said. He was killed instantly.
“We were sitting at the stop waiting for the train to cross,” said Will Gregg, of Big Spring. “We saw him walking on the tracks. Then I heard the train blow its horn, and he never even turned around. I don’t understand how he didn’t feel the vibrations of the train.”
Gregg was a couple hundred yards away, at the Wickham Street crossing.
The victim was pulled beneath the train and dragged almost 50 yards by the time the train came to a halt.
“He was walking towards us,” said Kim McDurmott, of Alvord, who was also stopped at the same crossing. “I think he had headphones on, but I couldn’t see clearly. I don’t think he heard it. He never flinched. He never looked over his shoulder. I don’t think he knew it was coming. It’s human nature to flinch or have some kind of reaction. That’s just how people are.”
The victim is believed to be a 14-year-old boy from Alvord. Several family members were present, but no one was able to positively identify him. The scene was tense and emotional. Investigators were combing the tracks looking for his cell phone to identify him.
Justice of the Peace Precinct 3 Mandy Hopkins Hays arrived to pronounce the victim dead at 8:35 p.m.
Department of Public Safety, Sheriff’s Office, Wise County medics, Alvord Volunteer Fire Department and BNSF officers all responded to the scene. The Sheriff’s Office and BNSF will lead the investigation. DPS chaplain Bobby Cox also arrived to help potential family members present and emergency responders.
The boy was struck at nearly the exact same spot as a woman was almost a year ago. Late last July, Frances Cleburn, 57, of North Richland Hills, walked in front of a train at the same intersection and was killed on July 30, 2011. Purple and white flowers and a cross are still at the spot, embedded in the gravel along the tracks, right behind Alvord Farm Supply.
This is the third person killed by a train Wise County in less than one year. James Bland, 73, of Chico, was killed by a train April 2 when he drove his rock hauler in front on oncoming train near Texas 101 between Chico and Bridgeport.