Baltimore Co. Man Found Dead In Shipment Of Coal

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Mike Schuh joined WJZ Eyewitness News as a general assignment reporter...
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BALTIMORE COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) — Two dead bodies were unloaded from a Florida freight train in a shipment of coal. One of them was a young man from Baltimore County. How did he die and how did he get so far from home?

Mike Schuh has more on the man’s mysterious death.

The family of Christopher Artes is devastated that he died. Meanwhile, the investigation into his death and the death of his apparent companion continues.

Officials at Lakeland Electric in Florida say this is the first time in the company’s 100 year history that a tragedy of this type has happened. Lakeland is a small city east of Tampa.

“This is the first I’ve ever heard of anything like this happening,” said Kevin Cook, Lakeland Director of Communications.

What happened was this: two bodies were found in mounds of coal on two consecutive days, a man and woman who apparently hitched a ride on a CSX freight train.

“The coal cars come in on this track,” Cook said. “As the coal cars come in on that elevated track, they open up, the bottom of the coal, the floor of the coal cars and they drop the coal into these big piles that you see underneath the track.”

On Monday, workers found the body of a man in the coal. He’s been identified as Christopher Frances Artes, 25, of Timonium.

On Tuesday, the body of a woman was found in the same shipment of coal. Her identity has not been released.

A neighbor says that Artes’ family is simply distraught over his death. That neighbor was so upset, she couldn’t bring herself to talk on camera.

Autopsy results show Artes apparently suffocated in the coal. Authorities say the woman died from blunt force trauma, possibly being crushed by the coal.

The train originated in Terra Haute, Ind., but it’s unclear where on that 1,000 mile trip to Florida the two hitched a ride.

“There was some property apparently that was found with the body yesterday,” said Anne Dinges, Lakeland Police Department.

Authorities say each train load has about 12,000 tons of coal.

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