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Pa. man killed by train

October 14, 1997

By LISA GRAYBEAL

Staff Writer, Chambersburg

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A 33-year-old Chambersburg man was killed late Monday night when he was struck by a Conrail train behind the 1000 block of South Main Street, according to Chambersburg Police.

Franklin County Coroner Kenneth L. Peiffer Jr. has ruled the death a suicide.

The man, originally from New Ringgold, Pa., in Schuylkill County, had lived at 962 S. Main Street, for the last few years, said Franklin County Chief Deputy Coroner Jeffrey Conner.

Conner pronounced the man dead at the scene of the 11:46 p.m. accident, about a quarter of a mile south of Orchard Drive between U.S. 11 and the Chambers-5 Industrial Park.

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An autopsy conducted Tuesday in Allentown, Pa., determined the cause of death to be multiple blunt force trauma, Conner said.

The locomotive engineer told police and officials he spotted the man lying between the tracks, Conner said.

The train, with three locomotives and 138 freight cars carrying a variety of merchandise, was traveling from Allentown to Hagerstown at the authorized speed of 50 mph, said Bob Libkind, Conrail spokesperson.

The locomotive engineer apparently saw something move on the tracks, at which time he sounded the horn and applied the emergency brakes, Libkind said. But by then it was too late to stop the train, he said.

"You can't stop on a dime," Libkind said.

Figuring in speed, weight and mass, Libkind said it can take up to a mile-and-a-half to stop a train like the one traveling through Chambersburg on Monday night.

He said applying emergency brakes on a train can cause other problems, including derailment, and put other people's lives in jeopardy.

"The train engineer has to pray that the person gets out of the way. There's nothing else they can do," he said, because it takes so long to stop a train.

Conrail authorities are labeling Monday night's incident a trespasser accident since the man was illegally on Conrail property, Libkind said.

Last year, 472 people in the nation - 14 in Pennsylvania - were killed, and close to 500 were injured in trespasser-related railroad accidents, Libkind said.

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