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Two Teens Die in Woodland Train-Pedestrian Accident (UPDATE)Salem-News.com
It is speculated that the two teens were unable to hear the approaching Amtrak because of the sound of a freight train.
(WOODLAND, Wash.) - Cowlitz County Sheriff's deputies are investigating the deaths of two teenagers who were struck by an Amtrak train in the south part of Woodland.
Amtrak officials reported that a northbound passenger train had struck two individuals who were standing on the tracks, about a 1/2 mile south of the Davidson Street crossing, at approximately 7:10 p.m.
"The two, a boy and a girl in their teens, were standing in the west tracks as a freight train was passing southbound on the east tracks," Captain Mark Nelson, Cowlitz County Sheriff's Office said.
"An Amtrak train was northbound on the west tracks, but the youths were facing away from the train. When the train engineer of the Amtrak train saw the people on the tracks he hit his whistle and brakes but the teens did not move."
It is speculated that they were unable to hear the approaching Amtrak because of the sound of a freight train that was also in the area.
The Amtrak train is believed to have been travelling between 75 and 79 mph through the area. The speed limit through that area is 79 mph, Nelson said.
Two families were contacted near the scene by Cowlitz County Coroner Tim Davidson and Sheriff's Chaplian Steve White, where tentative identification information was collected. It is believed that both teens are from the Woodland area.
"This is a tragic accident for the Woodland community."
"It is heartbreaking that two young lives are so quickly taken, under any circumstances." Nelson said.
Nelson also stated that train tracks are private property, owned by the Railroad and that pedestrian traffic is not allowed.
"These kinds of accidents are totally avoidable if people will cautiously cross at marked crossing." Nelson said.
The investigation had the tracks closed for nearly four hours, reopening at around 11:30 p.m.
School officials and the Sheriff's Office in Cowlitz County are postponing the "Every 15 Minutes" program that was scheduled for later this week.
"This program is an anti-drunk driving program that deals with the tragedy of drunk driving." Said Cowlitz County Sheriff's Captain Mark Nelson.
"We take a student out of class every 15 minutes to simulate a alcohol related death. Though there is no evidence of alcohol involvement in this incident, the whole idea is much too sensitive for the students, at this time." Nelson said.
Sheriff investigators are anticipating computer readouts from the train in order to record the speed, whistle length and emergency stop procedures, Nelson said.
The Sheriff's Office was assisted by Woodland Police, Woodland Fire, Amtrak and BNSF investigators. Woodland schools were also notified in order to help deal with students who may have been classmates of the teens.
The Cowlitz County Coroner will be verifying positive identification pending receipt of dental and medical records.
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