Monday, January 16, 2012
VERNON - A town is mourning the loss of a 15-year-old boy after he was struck and killed along the train tracks near the Vernon Elementary School, Sunday evening.
According to officials the incident occurred at about 5:15 p.m., when an Amtrak passenger train, traveling north, collided with the teen.
It is unclear at this time what events led up to the incident and officials declined to comment on the ongoing investigation.
More than 30 members of the Vernon fire and police departments, Rescue Inc., and the Vermont State Police were dispatched to the scene and worked for hours in the single-digit temperatures.
The blue and orange glow from the train and emergency vehicles served as the only illumination at the scene as the crews worked tirelessly to decipher what had happened.
Portions of Route 142, near the school, were closed for more than three hours in both directions and emergency personnel worked to clear the scene and attempt to re-create the incident.
The train, with nearly all of its passengers, remained where it had initially stopped following the incidents for more than two and a half hours.
An Amtrak spokesman on the scene declined to comment but spokeswoman Christina Leeds, during a phone interview, said the Vermonter passenger train was traveling between Washington, D.C., and St. Albans. There were 141 people aboard the train, she said, and no passengers were injured as a result of the incident.
Some of the passengers were able to exit the train after about an hour but most decided to stay inside its heated compartments.
Hanna Shea, of North Stonington, Conn., who was on board the train on her way to visit some friends in Brattleboro, said the whole incident was incredibly sad.
"At first we had no idea what was going on," she said. "The train stopped and then five minutes later police and firefighters showed up. It was then I thought something was wrong."
Quince Gaynor, a contractor working in Peterborough, N.H., who was also on the train at the time of the accident, said it wasn't until he heard the conductor over the loudspeaker that he discovered what had happened.
"At first he said that 'a trespasser had been struck by the train' then came on again and said there had been a fatality," Gaynor said.
He added that the mood on the train following the announcement was "somber."
The accident is still under investigation and no other information is going to be released at this time, officials said.
Josh Stilts can be reached at email@example.com, or 802-254-2311 ext. 273.
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