Two teenage boys, Connor Peterson and Kyle Patrick Wankmiller of Lutherville, MD, were run over by two light rail trains on Sunday. Maryland Transit Administration claimed that the two boys were lying on the tracks – thus either partaking in foolish, life-threatening games, or perhaps they were suicidal. However, video evidence has now brought to light that the two teens were walking and were caught off guard by the hit. Wankmiller was pronounced dead at the hospital, while Peterson passed away the next day.
The railway had gone down to one set of tracks for the day, explaining why the boys walking north were not prepared for a northbound train on tracks usually used for southbound trains. They assumed that they would be facing any oncoming train and would thus be able to escape. What is not explained is how two separate trains managed to run over these two boys.
Without either operator noticing.
That’s right, it was actually a fare inspector on board a third train who took notice. Two train operators, in broad daylight, with fantastic visibility, ran over two teenage boys without taking notice. There are several possible explanations, but none of them justify such a lack of attention. Perhaps if the operator of the train that struck the two boys down were paying attention enough to honk the horn, the boys could have been saved. Perhaps if he had paid attention enough to know that he just ran over two kids, he could have stopped the train, sought immediate medical attention, and prevented the boys from being run over again and from being left to die.
The spokesperson for MTA is hoping that this “incident” will teach the nation a lesson. The lesson she hopes we learn? To be “extremely safe” when crossing their tracks.
Safety is a must, she is right. Education about railroad safety is a great thing and a must – if that is her point, she is right.
But she’s completely wrong in the implication, if she is truly attempting to make it, that the real problem here was two teenage kids. Unless further investigation reveals some unforeseeable and good reason that these two train operators could not see or hear or feel the train which they were supposed to be operating kill these two teens, then the overwhelming majority of the fault lies on them. Perhaps one could argue that the kids are almost entirely at fault for being hit by the first train. This seems like a rather flimsy assumption, given that the operator should have honked and applied his brakes. Nevertheless, it seems undeniable that for abandoning the two teens and enabling another operator to carelessly run over them again, these two operators are entirely at fault. Two dying, immobilized teens cannot be held responsible for the operators’ responsibilities. MTA should be careful not to become morally complicit in this act by defending the train operators who were somehow too distracted to do their job.