Hobe Sound teen walking on tracks struck and killed by train in Indiantown

·3 min read

INDIANTOWN — A 15-year-old Hobe Sound girl Martin County sheriff's deputies knew as a habitual runaway, was struck and killed by a train Monday evening as she was walking on the tracks.

"The train's coming up behind her at 78 miles an hour," sheriff's Chief Deputy John Budensiek said. "The engineer sees her on the tracks, starts blowing the horn. He assumes she was wearing earphones or something to muffle her hearing."

He said investigators later found Emily Goux-Chavez, a student at Spectrum Academy in Stuart, had not been wearing earbuds or headphones.

He said 100 passengers were on the southbound Amtrak train and none of them saw what happened.

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The train struck her around 4 p.m. as she was walking on the tracks, with her back to the train, alongside a 13-year-old friend, Budensiek said.

"The victim's friend was kind of walking beside the tracks," he said.

As the train approached closer to them, the engineer pulled the break.

"He initiates the emergency shutoff switch, which tried to slow the train down, but of course, we know that trains don't stop like a normal vehicle," Budensiek said.

The 13-year-old girl jumped away from the train as it passed, and dodged it.

The chief deputy said Emily attempted to jump off the tracks. She was thrown from the train tracks into the grass.

She was found 150 yards north of the railroad crossing on Southwest Palm Way and Southwest Farm Road near the Indiantown U.S. Postal Service Office, according to an incident report from the Sheriff's Office.

Representatives from Amtrak could not be reached Thursday.

Budensiek said Emily and her friend were listed as missing since Jan. 14.

He said the two were known to law enforcement officers as "habitual runaways" from Hobe Sound. Deputies did not know how the girls ended up in Indiantown.

Martin County School District officials are aware of the death, said Jennifer DeShazo, a district spokesperson.

"Our thoughts are with the victim and the family," DeShazo said. "... we do provide services when a tragic situation impacts one of our campuses or a student or employee and we'll continue to do that."

The chief deputy cautioned people from walking on train tracks away from a railroad crossing.

"Not only do you not want to walk on the tracks," Budensiek said. "You don't want to walk near a train or on the train's property. Those trains at those high speeds can actually suck people in. The only place you want to cross the train tracks is where there's a legal crossing."

Train tracks are private property. Walking or riding on any railroad right of way or other railroad property without the permission of the railroad is trespassing and illegal, Budensiek said.

Mauricio La Plante is a breaking news reporter for TCPalm focusing on Martin County. Follow him on Twitter @mslaplantenews or email him at Mauricio.LaPlante@tcpalm.com.

This article originally appeared on Treasure Coast Newspapers: Train fatality: Amtrak train strikes kills 15-year-old girl

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