SEPTA trains hit two pedestrians in separate incidents

Posted: September 13, 2012

Two people, one of them a teen wearing headphones, were struck and injured by commuter trains in suburban Philadelphia within an hour of each other Wednesday in what an official called a "tragic coincidence."

SEPTA spokeswoman Jerri Williams characterized the two as "non-fatal accidents" that just happened to occur nearby in the same time frame, but a local police official said construction work and the use of headphones likely figured in the first accident.

At 3:10 p.m., a 16-year-old boy was hit by an outbound train Warminster Local train at a grade crossing 1,000 feet south of the Ardsley Train Station in Glenside.

All trains were running on the inbound tracks due to work being done on the rail system, said Deputy Police Chief John Livingood, of the Abington Township Police.

"The youth was walking north or in the same direction as outbound trains on what he apparently thought were the inbound only tracks," Livingood said. "He was wearing headphones and apparently listening to music as he walked along the tracks."

Livingood said the train's engineer saw the teen and blew the horn. The youth continued to walk, either not hearing the horn due to the headphones, or hearing it but expecting the train to pass him safely on the outbound track.

The engineer threw the emergency stop brakes and continued to blow the horn, but was unable to stop the train before it struck the teen, Livingood said.

Emergency personnel transported the youth to Abington Memorial Hospital where he was in critical but stable condition.

The Warminster Regional Rail Line was shut down for ten minutes. Service resumed at 3:20 p.m.

At 3:46 p.m. a 29-year-old Lansdale man was struck by an outbound train near the loading platform at the Lansdale Station on the Lansdale/Doylestown rail line.

The station is located at 101 W. Main Street in the Montgomery County borough. Lansdale police responded to the station at 3:49 p.m. and found the man under the train, but conscious and alert, said Sgt. Alex Kromdyk.

Witnesses told investigators that the man had scaled a fence separating the SEPTA property from others along Walnut Street, and began walking toward the tracks.

The conductor sounded the train's horn, police said they were told by witnesses, but the man never stopped.

The conductor attempted an emergency stop, but as the man crossed the tracks, he threw a skateboard he was carrying up onto the train platform, Kromdyk said.

As the man began to hoist himself onto the platform, he was struck by the left front of the lead train car and was thrown to the ground and under the train which slowed to an emergency stop.

Kromdyk said the man sustained injuries to his head and ankle, but the injuries did not appear to be life-threatening. He was flown by helicopter to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

The train line was shut down for 45 minutes. Service resumed at 4:30 p.m. No one on the train was hurt, SEPTA spokesman Andrew Busch said.

Neither Williams nor Busch could identify the victims. Williams did say the two incidents were not related.

"It's just a tragic coincidence," Williams said.


Contact Bonnie L. Cook at 610-313-8232 or bcook@phillynews.com.

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