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Howard Co. Investigates Track Safety After Fatal Train Derailment In Ellicott City

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train derailment victims, Nass, Mayr
Ritchie Rochelle 175x131 L Rochelle Ritchie
Rochelle Ritchie joined WJZ Eyewitness News in June 2012. Prio...
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ELLICOTT CITY, Md. (WJZ)— The Tuesday morning CSX train derailment that killed two young women in Ellicott City is highlighting the dangers of trespassing on that bridge where the two teens died.

Rochelle Ritchie has a closer look at those concerns.

Right now the tracks are blocked to everyone except for investigators and cleanup crews. But on any given day, people are able to get to the tracks without any problem.

On the wrong side of the tracks, 19-year-olds Elizabeth Conway Nass and Rose Louese Mayr were buried alive early Tuesday morning while hanging out on the train overpass in downtown Ellicott City.

“It is very sad, very sad,” said Gina Rower, Ellicott City resident.

The best friends snapped pictures on Twitter of their bare feet dangling over the edge of the bridge as the train sped by.

Nass Tweeted “Drinking on top of the Ellicott City sign with @rose_petals.”

The 21 cars being hauled by the moving train, carrying thousands of pounds of coal, derailed. The cars toppled over. Coal piled on top of the girls, killing them.

“It’s devastating,” said Scott Ruehl, former high school principal.

Tuesday night family and friends held a memorial at Mt. Hebron High School, where the two friends graduated in 2010. It drew a crowd of more than 100 people all in shock of what’s being called a freak accident.

“They were wonderful students, great girls, involved in the school,” Ruehl said.

Twenty-four hours later, the conversation now centers on the safety of the trains and the accessibility of the tracks.

“It’s just not a place to be hanging out,” one Ellicott City resident said.

But many people do.

“We’ve actually hiked up there before, me and the children,” Rower said.

Howard County executive Ken Ulman says while walking along the tracks may be a city habit, the county can’t ignore the dangers.

“You can walk way down and climb around the fence and walk back. There’s a stairwell to the neighboring property,” Ulman said.

That’s access the county will now look into changing.

“We want to do our best to make it as difficult as possible for anyone to get onto those train tracks ever again,” Ulman said.

“The chance of it happening again right here, right now to us is slim to none,” Rower said.

CSX has brought in a community safety expert to take a look at the area around the tracks.

The two victims were less than a week from starting their junior year of college.

For information on funeral arrangements click here.

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