California Teen Couple Emblematic of Rising Pedestrian Deaths From Trains

CaliforniaThe death of a Californian teen who was run over by a train, but managed to save his girlfriend’s life by pushing her from the tracks, points to a rising nationwide trend of pedestrians, playing or walking on train tracks, who are struck and killed.

Mateus Moore was walking along the railroad tracks that lead to the California’s Marysville Carter Academy for the Arts with his girlfriend Mickayla Friend. The couple was walking in the same direction of an oncoming train that they were not able to see until the train was already upon them. Moore was able to push Friend out-of-the-way. Eyewitnesses at a local little league baseball game say they saw the young teen save his girlfriend by pushing her from the train’s path. Friend is at a hospital close to Marysville, California, where the two live, while Moore died at the scene from the speed and weight of the train. Mickayla Friend sustained traumatic injuries to her body but is expected to survive the incidence.

This traumatic case of one young man’s bravery is not the only example across the nation of pedestrian accidents involving trains. These types of accidents actually increased rapidly during 2013, reports the St. Louis-Post Dispatch. There had been 352 deaths in 2013 involving pedestrians and trains, compared to 281 through the same amount of time in 2012. That equates to a 25 percent increase in total fatalities.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch even made this problem a three-part report highlighting the causes but sadly determining that it is a problem that does not offer an easy solution. One of the trickier aspects to this problem is that railroad tracks are private property in the United States, meaning that pedestrians who are using them are assuming their own risk. Despite the growing number of fatalities, not only in California and St. Louis but across the country, train operators have not taken the call to begin erecting safer security measures to deter risks and problems like erecting large fences that could stem the flow of pedestrian traffic onto the railroads.

Unfortunately the problem does not stop on the tracks. The USA Today has reported that the country is currently being swept up in a phenomenon they call “distracted walking.” This state can occur anytime a pedestrian is in public walking with a mobile phone, iPod or other gadget that could be distracting them from fully perceiving their surroundings.

The paper reports that the number of pedestrians that have been taken to emergency rooms and hospitals has “more than quadrupled in the past seven years and are almost certainly underreported.” They report that not only on railroad tracks, but in other areas there has been a large increase in the number of walkers killed in traffic accidents. They did add that “there is no reliable data on how many were distracted by electronics,” but remain confident that there is most likely a correlation.

In California alcohol nor electronics have been identified in the case of a teen who saved his girlfriend but lost his own life as they were walking to a school, dancing along Union Pacific railroad tracks.

By Nick Manai

Christian Science Monitor
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
USA Today

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