(Fort Worth, Texas – March 3, 2013)
A 16-year-old Crowley, TX High School student died at about 2:30 P.M. Sunday afternoon when he and four friends, on a trip to a variety store, cut through a standing Union Pacific freight train which was blocking their paths on one track, only to encounter a second train on a parallel track bearing down upon them in a 60 mph speed zone in Fort Worth, TX.
Alejandro Garnica was the last in a line of five teenage boys who navigated past the stopped first train. He was the only one hit by the second train, which was traveling in the opposite direction. The site of the tragedy is about a half mile from the nearest crossing, Sycamore School Road. Witnesses said the pathway the 15 and 16-year-olds took was a common access point for the residential/commercial neighborhood.
The rail corridor through that area is an FRA “Quiet Zone,” meaning trains do not sound their horns for crossings. However, the engineer claimed he blew the train’s whistle, but the surviving youths said they never heard it in time to react. Marktevin Bacy, one of the teens, confirmed that the train did sound its horn but by the time he heard it, it was too late for Garnica to take evasive action.
Union Pacific spokeswoman Raquel Espinoza confirmed that “this was not at a railroad crossing,” and that the train speed limit is 60 mph there, but “officials would have to download information from the train computers to determine how fast the train was going at the time of the accident.”
Fort Worth Battalion Fire Chief Richard Harrison described the area as “quite a distance from the crossing,” and that “Our truck couldn’t even reach the scene of the accident.”
The tragic site was adjacent to some athletic fields where MedStar Ambulance personnel arrived to treat the victim, and saw three people, thus fearing there were three victims. However, the other two were witnesses, possibly part of the group of boys involved in the accident. As the 911 call had been made by one of the four uninjured boys.
A female relative of the victim arrived at the scene shortly after the accident and had to be consoled by Fort Worth Police officers who responded to the incident.