(Albany, Oregon – March 29, 2014)
A 16-year-old student at West Albany High School in Albany, OR died at about 11:10 P.M. Saturday night when she was struck by a mile-long southbound Union Pacific freight train travelling at 40 mph near the intersection of Oregon Highway 99 and Beta Drive in Albany.
Whether the victim, Sara-Tessa Raechelle Lytle, was walking in a poorly-lit area along the tracks or was at the dangerous, unguarded crossing of Beta Drive and UPRR tracks was not known for sure, but the fact that the train hit her was reported by a Union Pacific employee aboard the train, one of 15 freight and Amtrak passenger trains which pass through that single-track rail corridor daily at a top permissible speed of 70 mph according to Federal Railroad Administration documents.
There are no active warning systems such as flashing lights, bells and crossing gates which might have offered a warning to the victim even though she may not have been exactly at the crossing. But the standard, passive pair of railroad cross-buck signs that exist at the Beta Drive/UPRR intersection have zero capability to warn anyone of approaching trains.
The Linn County Sheriff’s Office responded to the 911 call from UPRR, and the victim was found about 15 minutes after the collision, but was declared deceased at the scene by Linn County Coroner’s Office personnel.
Grief counsellors will be on duty at West Albany HS Monday morning to help students and teachers through the grieving process as they recall their fellow student’s and pupil’s life.