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Title: Sleeping Teenager Killed by Freight Train
A Sheriff's Office official says the 18-year-old man was lying between the tracks and was killed on impact.
By WILMA NORTON
) St. Petersburg Times, published April 8, 2000
CLEARWATER -- The freight train had just passed the Clearwater Airpark on Friday morning, as it does around 2 a.m. each day, when the engineer saw what he thought was a pile of rags ahead on the track.
As he got closer, he realized it was a person.
The engineer hit his horn and brakes, but the westbound CSX train could not stop in time.
"We heard him really frantic on the horn," said Shawn Williams, who lives on Flagler Avenue across the street from the tracks. "You could hear the brakes way up there," he said, pointing several blocks east of his house. "The engine finally stopped way down here. . . . I feel bad for the engineer. It wasn't his fault at all."
The 18-year-old man lying between the tracks died on impact, according to Cal Dennie, spokesman for the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. He apparently had been sleeping there.
Dennie said the man lifted his head when the train whistle sounded, but did not get out of the way. The train was traveling about 25 mph.
Officials found no suicide note and no sign of drugs at the scene, Dennie said. The man's name has not been released because his family had not been notified Friday.
Dennie described the young man as a transient who had been living "from friend to friend" in the area. He had been a student at Largo High, Dennie said, and his family lives out of state.
Largo High principal Barbara Thornton said Friday afternoon that she had heard nothing about the accident and couldn't think of any students who fit that description.
The tracks where the man was killed run parallel to Flagler Avenue, curving southwest toward Highland Avenue. He was struck at about Murray Avenue.
Williams said the train is a regular part of the neighborhood.
"Everybody in the area knows the train," Williams said. "There's no hiding it."
The train passes twice a day, he said, always at about 5:20 p.m. and about 2 a.m.
Williams moved to Flagler Avenue about two months ago with his girlfriend, Kelly Terhorst, and their 8-month-old son, Liam. He said the couple had talked about whether the tracks were dangerous.
"Last night our worst fear comes through," he said. "Somebody gets killed on the tracks."
-- (Dee360Degree@aol.com), April 08, 2000