ME: Pedestrian Struck and Killed by Downeaster Train

July 24--An Amtrak Downeaster train packed with commuters as it headed north from Boston to Brunswick struck and killed a pedestrian Wednesday evening in downtown North Berwick.

Authorities would only confirm that one person was killed. WCSH-TV quoted North Berwick police as saying that the victim was a man from North Berwick.

Although authorities had not confirmed the man's name and age late Wednesday, several people who were following the breaking news story on social media discovered a suicide note posted on a local man's Facebook page, saying he intended to kill himself on the tracks near Town Pizza.

Deputy Fire Chief Larry Straffin said the Downeaster train hit the pedestrian at the Lower Main Street railroad crossing near Town Pizza.

"Some of the passengers got off the train and called a friend or family member to give them a ride," Straffin said. Others remained on the train while its crew waited for a relief crew to arrive.

Amtrak spokesman Craig Schulz confirmed that 88 passengers were aboard Train 685. No injuries were reported among the passengers or train crew.

But the incident caused significant delays for the northbound train as well as two other trains -- Train 688 heading south from Brunswick and Train 687 heading north to Portland.

Patricia Quinn, executive director of the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, which oversees operations of the Amtrak Downeaster, said the Train 685 left Boston around 5 p.m. She described it as one of Amtrak's busiest commuter trains, with passengers departing Boston each evening bound for destinations in New Hampshire and Maine. She said Exeter, New Hampshire, was one of that train's most popular destinations.

"It is one of our busiest commuter trains," Quinn said. "It goes all the way to Brunswick."

Schulz said the accident, which was reported at 7:15 p.m., is being investigated by the North Berwick Police Department and by railroad police deployed by Pan Am Railways, which owns the rail line used by the Downeaster. Pan Am's spokeswoman, Cynthia Scarano, could not be reached Wednesday night for comment.

Two other people have died this year after being hit by Amtrak's Downeaster train.

In March, Old Orchard Beach police said a man intentionally stepped in front of a passing Amtrak train at the Union Avenue railroad crossing.

And in June, a 39-year-old South Portland woman died of multiple injuries after being hit by the Downeaster on tracks near Calvary Cemetery in South Portland.

Copyright 2014 - Portland Press Herald, Maine

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