(Marysville, California – March 21, 2014)
A pair of local 16-year-old high school students on their way to a Friday night school dance experienced a horrible tragedy as the two were hit and run over by a Union Pacific freight train headed from Oregon to Roseville, CA near a Little League baseball park in the northern California community of Marysville at about 7:00 P.M. Friday evening.
The couple, who were headed for a Sadie Hawkins Day dance at the Marysville Charter Academy for the Arts, were either walking on or near UPRR tracks that carry 55 trains daily past the Earle Yorton Little League Baseball Park at a top allowable speed of 25 mph. They had decided to go to a Dollar Tree store for snacks on their way to the dance, and the ensuing events would result in the deceased, Mateus Moore, being labelled a hero as a witness described what he saw.
“The engineer was on the horn,” related Sean Stark to a reporter from television station KCRA, Channel 3 in Sacramento, CA. “Then, finally, they both looked back at the same time.” He said Moore pushed the girl, Mickayla Friend, from the path of the train. “They would have both been underneath that train if he didn’t push her way at the last second,” Stark concluded.
“Two wonderful kids headed to a dance hit by a train,” lamented Marysville Joint Unified School District Board of Trustees President Frank Crawford to Marysville Appeal-Democrat News Writer Andrew Cummins in response to the tragic accident.
CalFire Captain Dennis Hunt, who responded to the scene of the tragedy, told the Journal-Gazette that “Marysville is a small but busy city. Everybody knows everybody so it was pretty traumatic.” The fire official added that he knows the female victim, and knew she was in a close relationship with the deceased boy. “She’s a sweetheart,” Hunt said of Mickayla, who was airlifted by helicopter to Sutter Roseville Medical Center for treatment of what were described as “critical” injuries. Moore was pronounced dead at the scene.
“It’s her first boyfriend and her first love,” Mickayla’s sister, Alithya Friend told KCRA. “And she just got it taken away from her in an instant.”
Union Pacific Spokesman Aaron Hunt (no relation to CalFire’s Hunt) said that both the train and the victims were headed southbound and that the teenaged couple failed to respond to blasts on the horn by the locomotive’s engineer.
Numerous attendees and participants of a ball game in progress at the Little League field complex, which just marked its 50th anniversary, flocked to the scene to provide assistance if possible.
Marysville Little League Secretary Diane Washburn expressed her concern for youth observing the tragic scene. “Once they see that, that can’t be unseen,” she told the Appeal-Democrat.
But ball park concession stand volunteer Richard Avila, who has spent the last five years working at the field’s refreshment area, described the situation of the adjacency of the tracks to the ball park and the movement of fans and participants across the heavily-used railroad tracks as “the makings of an accident” to the Marysville newspaper.
The community is criss-crossed and circumvented by several busy rail routes and serves as a junction for the old Southern Pacific and Western Pacific railroad routes, both of which were acquired by Union Pacific in the 1980’s and mid-1990’s.