(Reading, Pennsylvania – November 13, 2013)
An 18-year-old Reading, PA resident was tragically killed at about 4:00 P.M. Wednesday afternoon when he attempted to cross railroad tracks where a stopped Norfolk Southern freight train was blocking his intended route across North Second Street in Reading and the train began to move.
Jaylan Rodriguez was pronounced dead from multiple injuries at 4:43 P.M. by Berks County Deputy Coroner Ronald C. Peters after the train, which NS Railway officials confirmed was stopped, began to move.
According to Federal Railroad Administration records, the Second Street crossing was closed in August of 2003, but pedestrians still habitually cross the main line and three other tracks, as there is no fence to prevent such. A lone “No Trespassing” sign serves as the only “protection” for the pedestrian public.
The victim’s mother, Laly Collazo, brought to the scene by relatives, screamed “That’s my son! That’s my baby,” as she was restrained behind a police “crime scene” barrier tape.
The inconsolable mother, who later said her son worked at a store in the Fairgrounds Square Mall, sobbed “I just want to find out what happened. That’s my son. I can’t believe what happened.”
Residents of the area were asking why there was no fence erected by the railroad to prevent public use of the closed crossing when it was well known that the closed route was still being used by neighbors. “It (the crossing) is dangerous and this is not going to be an example because it (pedestrian use) is still going to occur anyway,” observed Robert Jones, who lives in the neighborhood. “It has been like this for years and if you look at it, they need to put some kind of barrier or fence up here; that way, you do not lose a life like you did today,” he told KFMZ-TV, Channel 69, Allentown, PA Reporter Jennifer Joas.
“A representative from Norfolk Southern would not discuss whose responsibility it is to put up a fence. But he did tell us the company spends a lot of time educating the community on the dangers of trespassing on railroad property,” Joas reported.
- She also reached Reading City Councilman Jeffrey Walton, who represents that area of the city. Walton told her that the property is Norfolk Southern’s responsibility and that the company should think about making sure the tracks are up to company standard.