Reporting Christie Ileto
MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (WJZ) — Police say the conductor of a CSX train sounds his horn several times before hitting and killing two men walking on the tracks in Montgomery County.
Christie Ileto explains–this latest accident highlights a disturbing, but growing, trend.
The big question here is how did this pair not hear or see this train coming? It’s something investigators are hoping to find out, as these types of accidents seem to be happening more and more.
Police say the conductor of a CSX train heading to D.C. sounded his horn several times Wednesday night in Montgomery County before fatally hitting two men.
“A wonderful son, a wonderful friend,” said Ada Ortega, victim’s motehr.
While the families of 18-year-old Alejandro Ortega and 20-year-old Elvin Roja cope with their sudden deaths, reports show the conductor saw the pair and tried to avoid hitting them.
Police say it’s unclear why the two men were on the tracks, if they heard the conductor sound his horn and if they were tuned out to the surroundings. But this latest fatal accident highlights an even bigger problem.
“There are definitely more cases of people walking around unaware,” said Dr. Richard Lichenstein, Prof. of Pediatrics, UMD.
Last month, an Aberdeen man wearing headphones was hit and killed by a train. Police say he never heard it coming.
In 2010, a Middle River teen fatally hit by a train was also tuned into her music.
“There’s all levels of distraction, eating and walking, talking and walking,” Lichenstein said.
A study done by Dr. Richard Lichenstein shows in 2004, 16 people in the U.S. were injured while walking and wearing headphones. By 2011, that number nearly tripled.
More than half of the moving vehicles involved–trains.
“And if you’re distracted for even a second, whether it’s on the road, near a train, by bicyclists or trucks that you have the risk of being injured and hit,” said Lichenstein.
It’s unclear if this week’s victims were wearing headphones, but police say it’s yet another cautionary tale to pay attention to your surroundings.
Residents in Garrett Park say trains are a familiar presence in their neighborhood and it’s something they’re cautious of.
Train service was not disrupted. That accident is under investigation.