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Ranson man struck, killed by train while sitting on tracks

23-year-old had been walking on tracks with girlfriend shortly before Sunday night incident

October 16, 2012

RANSON, W.Va. — A 23-year-old man who was struck and apparently killed by a train in Jefferson County on Sunday night had been walking on the railroad tracks with his girlfriend to a friend’s house in Ranson just before the incident happened, police said Tuesday.

Michael William Johnson, of Ranson, was struck by a Norfolk Southern train in the vicinity of Universal Forest Products off 16th Avenue near Ranson at about 11:50 p.m. Sunday, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department.

Johnson’s body was dragged about 350 feet after he was struck by the train, according to the sheriff’s department.

Police were told that Johnson was sitting in the railway with his back facing the train, which was unable to stop in time.

Johnson’s girlfriend told investigators that her boyfriend had been drinking alcohol the night of the incident and that they were walking together on the railroad tracks, according to the sheriff’s department.

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“He kept lagging behind,” Sheriff’s Office Chief of Staff Jesse W. Jones said Tuesday.

Johnson’s girlfriend told police that she believed he was following behind, but at one point he turned around and walked in the opposite direction before sitting down on the tracks, according to the sheriff’s department.

Jones said Johnson’s death remains under investigation, but investigators have no reason to suspect any foul play.

Sheriff’s deputies M. Armel and R. Rjasko are investigating the incident, Jones said.

— Matthew Umstead

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