Brittney Silva was tragically hit and killed by an Amtrak train as she walked on train tracks near her home in San Leandro, California. Brittney was talking on her cell phone when this horrible accident occurred at Hesperian Boulevard at 5:55 on Monday evening. An eyewitness attempted to warn her but she could not hear because she had ear buds in both of her ears.
Brittney had been using her earphones while engaging in a heated argument with her father as she walked on the tracks toward home. She was no stranger to the danger that could occur on train tracks because the Amtrak trains passed by her home every day. According to Brian Crist, her stepfather, the teen was distracted and upset. She had gotten lost in the escalated conversation.
Witnesses told police that the crossing arms of the railroad had functioned properly at the time the accident took place. The southbound Capitol Corridor train stopped several hundred yards after hitting the girl and none of the 83 passengers aboard the train were hurt. Brittney’s body was found 50 yards south of the tracks. The pink phone her stepfather had bought her was found close by.
Cynthia Silva, Brittney’s mother, said she has told her children over and over again to keep one ear bud in and one out so that they can hear what is going on around them. Cynthia said this goes for all of the kids out there walking down the street either talking on the phone or listening to music. She believes if her daughter had listened and did what she said, she would have heard the train coming down the tracks.
The teen’s younger sister, Melody, said everyone loved Brittney. She was very nice, respectful and always gave her great advice. Friends of the slain girl cried as they laid flowers at the accident scene. One friend, Lillian McLean, said Brittney was like many people when they have their ear buds in; they are in their own little world. Theresa Lavoy, another friend, said this was a wakeup call for her. It really taught her she has to pay attention to her surroundings and not just “do her own thing” when she is out there walking because it is hard sometimes to see the train coming.
Vernaé Graham, Amtrak spokeswoman, said despite all of the public awareness campaigns focused on people being distracted by cell phone usage there are more and more people failing to heed those warning around train tracks.
Executive director of California Operation Lifesaver, Peter Aadland, said California leads the nation in pedestrian train track fatalities each year. This state has a high number of open track crossings and train lines. There were 119 deaths on the tracks in 2013 as opposed to 112 the year prior. These numbers only cover accidents, if suicides were included the numbers would be higher. Aadland believes all of these fatalities could have been preventable. It is important to use a heightened level of awareness whenever a train track is near.
Brittney was scheduled to start college in the fall in hopes of becoming a marine biologist or an obstetrician, says her mother. She had the whole world in the palm of her hand, now she is gone.
When tragic situations like this occur it raises questions such as why this teen would have her earphones up so loud and why she would walk along an active train track. The truth is Brittney did not do anything other than what thousands of people do on a daily basis. They may not live near an Amtrak route but it is rare to see people without a Bluetooth in their ear or some type of mechanism connected to their cell phone which could cause the same kind of distraction. Whether people want to admit it or not, they are not as alert or aware as they could be when they are chatting away on the phone or blasting music in their ears.
Brittney Silva died on Monday night after being hit by an Amtrak train. At the time of the tragic accident this 18-year-old girl was wearing earphones as she engaged in a heated argument with her father. An onlooker tried to warn her of the pending danger but she failed to respond. Brittney’s body was found about 50 yards away from the track with her phone close by.
By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)