(Vernon, Vermont – January 15, 2012)
The death of 15-year-old Eric Pratt of Vernon, VT , who was struck by an Amtrak passenger train as he tried to walk across NECR railroad tracks at the dangerous, unguarded crossing of Bemis Road and the New England Central Railroad in Vernon Sunday afternoon about 5:15 P.M. has devastated the New England community.
The Bemis Road crossing, which leads to the Vernon Elementary School, is listed as a “private” crossing, and has no electronic or automatic protective devices such as lights, gates or bells, relying solely upon passive railroad crossbuck signage to warn the public of the possibility of passing trains.
Amtrak’s train no. 54, The Vermonter, was northbound from Washington, DC, on its way to St. Albans, VT with 141 passengers on board. Even though the tragedy occurred at a legal road crossing, Amtrak officials aboard the train first told passengers they had hit a “trespasser”, and later clarified the tragic accident as a fatality, putting those aboard the train in a somber mood according to several passengers.
More than 30 members of the Vernon fire and police depts., EMT’s and Vermont State Police responded to the tragedy.
New England Central RR is one of the RailAmerica short line and regional conglomerates 43 railroads operating in the United States and Canada.