Teenager Killed By Train in Fresno

March 6, 2009 2:06:38 PM PST
A teenager died Thursday night after he tried to beat a fast-moving train in Central Fresno. It's a crossing dozens of kids pass through every day. About 700 kids go to Cooper Middle School -- and like Stacey Frierson, who died in the accident Thursday -- many of them cross these tracks to get to school.

Even when the crossing guards work, like they did Thursday, those kids are still in danger if they ignore the warnings. Railroad crews tested the warning system on the tracks where a teenager died just hours before. The 14-year-old Frierson was chasing girls when he sprinted right past the crossing arms, even as his friends warned him not to cross.

"We said 'you're not going to make it.' and he said, 'Yes I am' and he kept running," said his friend Khai Williams, who witnessed the accident. "He passed the first railing and we got to the second railing and we weren't looking at him. Then, we just saw his body flying up in the air super high."

The train stopped on the tracks after the accident, but police say when it hit the boy it was going 60 miles an hour, right at the speed limit in central Fresno.

"It nicked him at the last moment and it tossed his body and his body's just over by the left shoulder here," said Lt. Greg Sanders, with the Fresno Police Department

There are no sidewalks leading up to the tracks on Fruit Avenue, but kids cross it every day to get to nearby schools. "I used to walk across the railroad track every day when I went to Wawona [Middle School] and this is the second time I've seen someone get run over right here," said Carly Gulberg, who lives near the tracks.

Dealing with the train danger is tricky. In 2001, a train hit and killed a Fresno City College student. It happened again in 2004 and after that, the school built a train underpass on Weldon.

But that kind of solution can't come soon enough for Frierson's friends. "Ii don't know what he was thinking," said his friend Anthony Muldrew. "I don't know. It was just crazy."

The Fresno City College underpass cost about $2 million and there are dozens of railroad crossings near schools in Fresno, so the cost could get pretty high.

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