(Kingsbury, New York – May 17, 2014)
A 34-year-old fisherman and his six-year-old fishing buddy were both struck and killed by a southbound Amtrak “Ethan Allen” passenger train traveling from Rutland, VT on Canadian Pacific rails about 7:00 P.M. Saturday evening in the New York community of Kingsbury.
Both Paul D. Wallach and his younger companion, Jordan Catellier, were sitting on the edge of the single-span open-deck steel bridge which spans Bond Creek in Washington County, NY, and were obviously aware of the train’s approach, but erroneously thought there was enough room for the train to pass by them if they stood up at the side of the bridge. Tragically, they were wrong.
“It appears as though they thought there was enough room for them as it went by,” said Washington County Sheriff Jeff Murphy. The sheriff added that the train’s crew and passengers were unaware that the two were on the bridge or were struck by the train, as the train did not stop at the scene and continued on toward its New York City destination.
Amtrak Spokesman Craig Schulz said that there was no indication that anyone had been hit. He said that “trains close distances quickly and often can’t be heard by those ahead of them.”
“It’s a tragedy,” he added. “These (accidents) are terrible for everybody involved.”
Police authorities agreed with the Amtrak spokesman that “approaching trains are surprisingly quiet, particularly on straightaways where noise is behind the train.” They said the maximum speed for passenger trains through that rail corridor is 60 mph, and that it was at first difficult to determine which train had hit the pair, as a number of trains had passed through that corridor between the time the two went fishing and when their bodies were discovered after they did not return home. In fact, records kept by the Federal Railroad Administration indicate that an average of 16 CPR freight and Amtrak passenger trains cross that bridge daily.
In fact, according to Sheriff Murphy, it was not until investigators viewed video footage taken by the Amtrak locomotive’s nose camera, which showed the accident occurring, that they could determine which train had killed the two. The tragedy occurred in daylight.
The victims were pronounced dead at the scene by Washington County Coroner Ruth Scribner.
“He just got that pole,” said Amy Catellier, Jordan’s mother. “It was his first time fishing with it. This is just terrible”, added the grieving parent.