(Fitchburg, Massachusetts – August 30, 2013)
A 10-year-old boy lost one of his feet to a Pan Am Railway/Norfolk Southern freight train at about 6:00 P.M. Friday evening when he was attempting to cross MTBA (Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority) railroad tracks and was struck by the train being hauled by three locomotives and an undisclosed number of freight cars on tracks near First Street in Fitchburg, MA.
The youngster, who was not named, apparently lived nearby, as his father was on the scene when emergency responders arrived.
First Street dead-ends into a quadruple-tracked rail line that is partially owned and operated by a number of rail carriers, including the MBTA commuter passenger transit operation and the “Patriot Corridor” freight line under the joint ownership of Pan Am Railway Systems and Norfolk Southern. Pan Am, known as the Guilford railroad conglomerate prior to 2006, operates four Class II regional railroads, among them the rail line upon which the tragedy occurred, and news media attempts to reach the company were unsuccessful.
The victim was found with his foot still barely attached to his leg, and was first taken to HealthAlliance Hospital-Leominster, and then flown to the UMass Memorial Medical Hospital in Worcester, MA, where Acting Fitchburg Deputy Fire Chief Kenneth Desjean reported that the boys injury was a partial amputation of his foot that had to be completed later at the trauma center. “The surgeons tried to save it but were unable to,” the Acting Chief told Boston Globe Correspondent Nicholas Jacques, adding that the boy was conscious, alert and speaking after the accident.
Numbers of freight and passenger trains that pass the tragic site daily and at what speed could not be determined due to flawed and incomplete reports filed by railroad owners with the Federal Railroad Administration. Neither could it be learned how much, if any, fencing or signage exists to attempt to separate the public from the dangers of the railroad tracks.
The tragedy occurred as the annual Labor Day holiday was beginning, and numerous MBTA passenger trains were stopped and considerably delayed as authorities investigated the accident and provided care for the young victim.