Hagerstown man dies on Norfolk Southern railroad tracks next to North Burhans Boulevard
For the second time in less than three weeks, a person was struck and killed on a section of Norfolk Southern railroad track near North Burhans Boulevard in Hagerstown.
Hagerstown Police investigators and Norfolk Southern Police responded to the railroad overpass at West Franklin and McPherson streets after a report around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday that a pedestrian was struck on the tracks, according to an email from Lt. Rebecca Fetchu, spokesperson for Hagerstown Police.
The pedestrian, a 36-year-old Hagerstown man, was pronounced deceased, Fetchu wrote. His body was taken to the state medical examiner's office.
The Herald-Mail is not publishing the name of the deceased at this time.
"An official cause of death won't be determined until the investigation is compete and the results of the autopsy come back," Fetchu wrote.
Previously:Crews working to reopen tracks near Fairplay after 26-car Norfolk Southern derailment
The Norfolk Southern train was heading south at about 25 mph, Fetchu wrote. She did not know the speed limit for trains in that area.
Norfolk Southern did not immediately respond to a follow-up question about the speed limit in that area.
"Any loss of life is a tragedy, and our thoughts are with the family and friends of this person," Norfolk Southern said in a statement released Wednesday morning. "Train tracks are never a safe place for the public to be for any reason — trains travel at all hours of the day and night, and can come unexpectedly from any direction. The only place it’s safe to cross tracks is at designated crossings, and those still require extra attention to cross safely at."
On the morning of Jan. 20, a 31-year-old Hagerstown man was found dead in the same area after being struck by a train, Hagerstown Police have said. Norfolk Southern investigators also were called to the scene of that incident, which was reported around 2:20 a.m.
That overpass is near the Hagerstown Police Department.
The investigation into the Jan. 20 death remains open and autopsy results have not been returned yet, Fetchu said. Typically, it takes a few months for autopsy results.
This is at least the fourth person killed in the past 2 1/2 years after being struck by a train in the stretch of tracks near North Burhans Boulevard.
Hagerstown Police recently used a new aerial drone to search for a male who had made suicidal statements and walked on the tracks, Fetchu wrote. Police were able to find the male with the drone as he was walking on the tracks alongside North Prospect Street.
"Officers were able to make contact with him, get him off the tracks and connected him with mental health services," Fetchu wrote.
Norfolk Southern cautions about trespassing near railroad tracks
There is a set of open stairs at the Church Street overpass with a no trespassing sign posted at the bottom of the stairway. The tracks in that area also are accessible by climbing steep hillsides along the tracks and shoe prints have been visible on the hillside.
The West Franklin Street overpass is a short block away from those stairs.
The land near Norfolk Southern tracks is private property, according to the email from Norfolk Southern. The message also noted the "no trespassing" sign in that area.
The Federal Railroad Administration also cautions that it is illegal to trespass on railroad property.
"Trespassing along railroad rights-of-way is the leading cause of rail-related deaths" in the U.S., according to the rail administration's website.
Norfolk Southern partners throughout the year with organizations like Operation Lifesaver nationally and at the state level on rail safety initiatives and in educating the public, according to the company statement.
Among the risks of walking near railroad tracks is that trains overhang tracks by 3 feet or more on either side, so a person can be struck by a train without being on the tracks, according to the Federal Railroad Administration website.
Earlier fatalities on railroad tracks in Hagerstown
Two earlier fatalities on nearby tracks, in 2021 and 2020, were ruled accidental, Fetchu has said.
A 40-year-old man was struck by a train the night of Sept. 14, 2020, along tracks close to a concrete company in the 400 block of North Burhans Boulevard.
A 58-year-old woman was struck and killed by a train the afternoon of March 17, 2021, in the 500 block of North Burhans where the tracks run along the concrete company property.
This article originally appeared on The Herald-Mail: Second person in 3 weeks dies after being hit by train in Hagerstown