By Mike Schuh

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.

Comments (6)
  1. frank coffee says:

    We need coal locks on all coal shipments.

  2. Alex Sotiriou says:

    I am absolutely disgusted by the fact that WJZ chose to bring up the fact that Chris had a criminal record regarding marijuana possession charges in his past, while covering this story. This had absolutely NOTHING to do with the death of a young and great person, and only served to paint a dead kid in a negative light. Way to kick a dead horse and sensationalize a tragedy for no reason what so ever, I hope you’re proud of yourselves WJZ.

    1. Bernard Mc Kernan says:

      Alex, Get back on your meds or have you been hiding someting from the public?

  3. Karla Brown says:

    I don’t see anything about a criminal past……It’s a shame they died, but come on……………Did they lose their train ticket?

  4. jimmy says:

    yeah, i read the story a second time and no mention of drug use until their friend Alexandra Sotiriou enlightened us on that fact. good job friend. but if you like it or not your criminal history is not private information so the best way to not be painted in a bad light…..would to not smoke weed and shoot heroin.

  5. taylor says:

    Congratulations on the ability to read the article, especially a second time Jimmy! Good job! The actual news report on TV did mention his arrests. Sure, the smart ass comment about not doing drugs is semi true, but really? Does anyone deserve to have their name dragged through the mud upon their young and untimely death? Hopefully none of you have ever gotten drunk, smoked pot or just plain made a mistake that will end up being your legacy thanks to the media and news junket.

    Chris was a nice guy, regardless of any arrests or mistakes that had nothing to do with his passing away.

    Rip chris

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