(Fort Wayne, Indiana – July 20, 2014)
A path to a railroad track followed by two curious 10-year-old Fort Wayne, IN boys turned into a path to tragedy Sunday afternoon at about 5:15 P.M. when an urgent 911 call from a distraught grandmother whose property borders Norfolk Southern railroad tracks in the south part of the city, reported that her grandson’s 10-year-old friend had suffered serious leg injuries while playing near the double-tracked main line.
Donna Niles, who lives at 3116 McDonald Street, just across from the railroad tracks, said her grandson came running to her in tears, crying for help for his young friend. She followed her sobbing grandson through the weeds and the pathway the children had used to access an unfenced area where they could gain entry to the tracks. There, she found his injured companion, whose “leg was hanging on by a little bit.”
Niles said that the youthful victim was screaming “I’m going to die” by the time she reached him in order to lend what aid she could. Niles told Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette writers Chris Meyers and Jeff Wiehe that she thought the boy who was injured was trying to jump aboard the train and slipped.
Other witnesses at the scene told Fort Wayne TV Channel 21 reporters that the victim tripped as he attempted to board the train, which they said was moving too fast, landed on the track and had his leg run over. Initial reports were that he suffered a compound fracture of his leg.
The unidentified youngster was taken to a Fort Wayne hospital in hopes of saving the boy’s leg, and his condition was wavering between critical and serious condition late Sunday night.
The area between the residential area and the NS railroad tracks has some fencing, but is also obscured by a considerable amount of trees and underbrush. According to Federal Railroad Administration reports, a daily average of 35 trains travel through that corridor at a maximum allowable speed of 60 mph.
Niles also told reporters that she repeatedly warned her grandson and his friend about playing near the railroad tracks. “I told them you can’t get away from those things moving that fast.”