(Chester, Virginia – May 9, 2018)
Two local teenagers died near a frequently-traversed rail pathway along double CSX railroad tracks. The teens first waited for a CSX freight train to clear the tracks, and then were struck by Amtrak’s New York-bound Palmetto with 123 passengers and crew on board. The Amtrak train was hidden from their view by the freight train on the opposite track in Chester, VA at about 4:56 P.M., EDT Wednesday afternoon.
Samuel W. Rivas, 18, of Quail Hollow Lane and Presley A. Trent, 13, of Chester Village Drive, were both killed as they and three other youths on their way to a softball practice. “Residents who live in the area say people often use the path as a shortcut,” said WRIC-TV News Channel 8 Reporter Aaron Thomas as he spoke near the tracks which on an average day carry 29 CSX freight and Amtrak passenger trains at a maximum speed of 79 mph through the heavily-populated and commercial area. The other youths escaped injury but witnessed the tragic event.
“It’s a horrible situation, really tragic…heartbreaking,” area resident David Lowman told the Channel 8 reporter.. “These young people, there are going to be more of them that walk through here tomorrow,” Lowman predicted. “They’ll get off the school bus and want something at the library, and that’s a shortcut.”
Meanwhile, WWBT-TV Channel 12 NBC News Reporter Brent Solomon interviewed resident Jeff Lesueur near the tragic scene and was told “I wasn’t surprised when I saw all this going on. People use those tracks kind of a cut through here in Chester,”
Another nearby resident, Brian Skora, amplified the frequency and ease of pedestrian usage of the rail route, saying “A lot of people walk back and forth up to Whistle Stop, the gas station up there.”
“It’s not uncommon to see people walking back there,” Skora added.