(La Porte, Indiana – April 4, 2013)
A 17-year-old La Porte, IN high school student, scared for his life when he was struck by a westbound Norfolk Southern freight train consisting of three locomotives and 33 cars travelling at 30 mph Thursday night at about 9:35 P.M. at the triple-tracked crossing of Tyler Street in La Porte. But the teenager was so much more scared of getting into trouble that he limped on home, minus one shoe while sporting a bruised and lacerated leg.
The NS crossing of Tyler Street is equipped fully with flashing lights, bells and crossing gates for auto traffic, but pedestrians are forced onto the road to cross the tracks because the sidewalks on either side terminate at the tracks. The three NS railroad tracks come out of a curve as they approach Tyler Street, making it difficult to determine upon which track a train is approaching.
David Glesser, the NS locomotive engineer, said he saw a person attempt to run across the tracks, trip and fall, and then heard a thud and assumed he had hit a pedestrian. Stopping the train, Glesser called his dispatcher for help, and the La Porte Police Dept., La Porte County Sheriff’s Office and La Porte Fire Dept. all responded. When asked if he was sure he had hit the pedestrian, the engineer said “No, it just sounded like that. It was too fast to know what actually happened.”
After a fruitless search for a victim, the train was released and at about 4:15 A.M. an injured teen who claimed he had been hit by a train was being x-rayed and treated for various external injuries at the Indiana University Health La Porte Hospital emergency room. The unnamed boy said he cut across the tracks, saw the train and attempted to run off the tracks, only to be struck by the train so hard that it knocked him out of his shoe as the impetus of the train sent him flying through the air. Upon his arrival at home, the boy told his grandmother and guardian, Patricia Chambers, that he had been hit by a train, and it was she who took him to the hospital to be checked out as he was in a great deal of pain, even though the grandmother was still skeptical about his story.
According to Federal Railroad Administration statistics, the accident was the first pedestrian incident at the Tyler Street/NS crossing, but was preceded by a half dozen car/train collisions which killed one person and injured another. The crossing accommodates 53 trains daily, including Amtrak passenger operations, at top speeds of 79 mph.