(Cedar Lake, Indiana – March 17, 2015)
Jeffrey Bellinger, a 13-year-old student at Hanover Central Middle School in Cedar Lake, IN, was hit and killed by a CSX freight train traveling in the same direction as he walked home from school alongside of the railroad tracks between 3:00 and 4:00 P.M. Tuesday afternoon.
Only a handful of trains, including a pair of Amtrak runs, roll over CSX rails that pass through the corridor that divides the close-knit Indiana community of Cedar Lake, but those few trains travel at 60 mph. Meanwhile, the 500-student school sits virtually next to the railroad tracks, and Bellinger’s death was not the first student fatality on the often-used rail shortcut between home and school. Four years ago, another HCMS student died in a similar tragedy.
Speculation was that the teen, described as “upbeat and fun loving” was wearing a hooded sweatshirt and ear buds, making him somewhat oblivious to the oncoming train. The Lake County Coroner ruled that the boy died of “blunt force trauma.”
Hanover Community Schools Supt. Tom Taylor said that “…this is going to devastate a lot of people, and we’ll have to work our way through that.” Taylor added that “He (Jeffrey) had a lot of energy, he had a lot of fun in school, he had a lot of fun with his friends and he had a lot of friends.”