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Teen killed by train in Culpeper

Railroad officials and police are on scene investigating a fatal accident this morning that killed a 19-year-old Culpeper man. / Donnie Johnston / The Free Lance-Star

Culpeper police say a 19-year-old man who was killed by an Amtrak train Thursday morning refused to heed the sound of the engineer’s horn and did not move as the locomotive approached and struck him.

“The engineer said he just sat there on the crosstie, leaning his head back with his hands on the rail,” police Detective Luke Altman said. “Two other men who were also on the tracks made it off safely.”

The incident occurred shortly after 8 a.m. as Train 20, the Crescent, which operates between New Orleans and New York, pulled out of the Culpeper station heading north.

Less than half a mile up the tracks, just as the train was picking up speed on a straight stretch of double track, the crew of the twin locomotives noticed the men on the tracks, according to town public information officer Wally Bunker.

The engineer began blowing his horn and applying his brakes, Bunker said. But the nine-car train was traveling at a speed of about 40 mph and the engineer could not stop in time.

The incident occurred several yards from Mountain Run, about halfway between Fairfax Street and the railroad bridge over Nalles Mill Road.

It is unclear why the man was sitting on the tracks. The identity of the victim, who was pronounced dead at the scene, was withheld pending the notification of next of kin.

Some of the 266 passengers onboard the Crescent were transferred to the Northeast Regional (which runs daily between Lynchburg and New York) about 11 a.m.

Since the accident occurred on one of the few remaining double track sections of the railroad, which is owned by Norfolk Southern, freight and passenger service was slowed but not halted during the Thursday’s investigation.

That investigation is being conducted by the Culpeper town police and Norfolk Southern officials.

Donnie Johnston:

Photo by Donnie Johnston/The Free Lance-Star

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