Three teen-agers killed by high-speed Amtrak train in suburban Philadelphia

Monday, December 10th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

FAIRLESS HILLS, Pa. (AP) _ An Amtrak train traveling at 100 mph struck and killed three teen-agers trespassing on railroad tracks shortly after it rounded a curve in a suburb north of Philadelphia.

None of the roughly 300 passengers was hurt in Sunday's collision.

The three victims _ males ages 14, 15 and 19 _ were among a group of five teen-agers on the tracks in an industrial area of Falls Township, police said. The other two teens were uninjured.

The engineer of the high-speed Acela Express, which was en route to Washington, D.C., said he saw several people on the tracks up ahead, but had no chance of stopping the train in time.

Amtrak spokeswoman Karen Dunn said that engineers need at least a mile to stop a fast-moving train if they see someone on the tracks.

``It's tragic for the engineer, because in cases like this you can often see it but not prevent it,'' Dunn said.

Acting Falls Township Police Chief Neil Harkins said the victims' backs were to the train when they were struck. ``We don't know if they heard the train or not,'' he said.

The names of the three victims were expected to be released after autopsies were conducted on Monday, Harkins said.

The two survivors were a boy and a girl. They only knew the 19-year-old by his first name, making identification difficult.

Acela Express trains can go up to 150 mph. Amtrak operates the high-speed service between Washington and Boston.

After Sunday's collision, passengers remained on the scene hours after the accident waiting for another train to pick them up.

Service on other Amtrak trains was restored within 30 minutes, Dunn said.

According to Dunn, there is a fence around the tracks to reduce the risk of pedestrian accidents. ``We're not sure what the circumstances were yet. I haven't gotten a report from the engineer,'' she said.

Marty Burke, a member of the Fairless Hills Fire Company, said working at the scene was devastating.

``It's really a tragedy _ kids and at Christmas. This is going to ruin a lot of families,'' Burke said.

In September, a 71-year-old Warwick, R.I., man was also killed by an Acela Express train while walking on railroad tracks near his home.