It was just a regular Thursday night for Mark Wolfe.get more >>
It was just a regular Thursday night for Mark Wolfe. get more >>
CHARLOTTE, Mich. (WLNS) - A memorial was set up to remember a teenager killed by a train on Friday in Charlotte.
Matthew Wagner, 16, was hit by a train while walking home from school on Friday around 3p.m.
Funeral services are set for Tuesday at 2p.m. at the Pray's Funeral Home in Charlotte.
Officials in Charlotte say the rail runs through town and many students cross over it on their way home from school.
Curtis Stewart is a train safety expert. In his experience, people are often unaware of the rules in place meant to keep them safe near railroad tracks.
"We find out a lot that people don't know that not only is trespassing dangerous, it's illegal," said Stewart, Michigan Education Chairman, Operation Livesaver.
He says people often walk along the rock path, unaware they're breaking safety laws and still in the path of danger. "It's still trespassing and it's still illegal and it's very dangerous as unfortunately was found out here in Charlotte."
Stewart says a train traveling about 55 miles an hour takes a whole mile to stop. So if someone walks in front of the tracks, even a few hundred yards in front of the train, it's nearly impossible to miss collision.
Shayne Howlette, a recent Charlotte High grad, says many students don't think twice about walking along the track to get home. "It's like a detour throughout the whole town. Going on the tracks and going the normal way, the tracks just cut the time right in half."
But Stewart urges students to take the long way. He says a train death is just as traumatic for the conductors as it is for victims' families.
"Most engineers that I've talked to say the last thing people do is look up at them and that's the last thing they see. They make eye contact with them," Stewart adds.
Charlotte's superintendent says there are counselors in all of Matthew's classes for students or faculty who need them and she says the community is doing about as well as it can be during this difficult time.