(Imlay City, Michigan – June 9, 2011)
An 11-year-old Imlay City, MI boy, Tomas “Tommy” Rodriguez, walking to school with his best friend, was killed around 7:00 A.M. Thursday morning when the pair of middle school students tried to run across Canadian National Railroad tracks. Antonio Martinez, also an 11-year-old sixth grader at Imlay City Middle School, made it across the tracks safely, but Tommy tripped, fell, and was hit and killed by the train.
WDIV-TV Reporter Shawn Ley said that “Police tell us Tommy didn’t have a chance,” adding later that “We saw a train go by a few minutes ago, and they fly through this neighborhood.” The tragedy occurred at the Handley Street crossing of CNR tracks, which has considerable foliage and trees along the railroad right-of-way in this residential neighborhood in which both boys live.
The crossing is equipped with lights and gates, and a Canadian National signal crew was testing the lights and signals after the accident to make sure they were functioning properly. However, Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari took it upon himself to declare that all the warning devices at the crossing were working, and that “the train was also flashing lights, ringing its bell and using its loud horn.”
Magliari also said that the engineer of the train chose to go on “compassionate leave” following the incident. The Amtrak train was running from Port Huron to Chicago with two locomotives and six cars.