Man hit, killed by Amtrak train in Hyde Park

Inspectors and police at Hyde Park stationInspectors and police at Hyde Park station, a few feet from tarps covering remains.

UPDATE: Victim identified as Hyde Park man.

An Acela train barreling through Hyde Park station struck and killed somebody around 10:30 p.m. The engineer immediately applied emergency brakes, but it still took several blocks for the train to come to a stop - just on the other side of the West Street bridge, well north of the station.

More than 100 passengers sat on the train for more than two hours beside beside a wall painted with "Welcome to Boston," while outside, police and firefighters also waited, to help transfer passengers to a promised relief train from South Station that never came.

"The train crew haven't announced what happened, but passengers told them we read about what happened on Twitter," Jesse, a passenger on the train reported.

He added that the train "coasted to a stop with a burning electrical smell that I presume was the brakes. AC was off for a few, then kicked back on."

At 12:45 a.m., after an inspector took one last look around the train, the engineer sounded its horn twice and the train took off for Back Bay and South Station.

Meanwhile, back at the Hyde Park commuter-rail stop, investigators continued to examine the tracks and put down evidence cones along the inbound platform. Three white tarps covered remains along the center tracks.

Flashing police and fire lights cast an unusual glow on the stopped Acela train.Flashing police and fire lights cast an unusual glow on the stopped Acela train.

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Amtrak is like the MBTA?

...to help transfer passengers to a promised relief train from South Station that never came.

Because transit organizations operating in the Boston area are consistently incapable of handling exceptional situations.

Nearly a front row

I was on my way to pick up someone at that station at 10:40. I was going to go early and wait, but I couldn't find the book I was going to read. As I was waiting to make the turn off of Hyde Park Ave, two cruisers blazed past me. I went in and parked, then more and more cops showed up - plainclothes, bike, foot - then EMTs, then an ambulance, then two fire trucks. Everyone was going to look at the inbound tracks under River Street. One of the EMTs came over the the firetrucks and told the crew not to bother, that the victim was in pieces.

Acela trains approach VERY fast

I've been standing on the bridge on Cummins Highway over the tracks in Roslindale when an Acela has gone by and it must have been going at least 60mph and was pretty silent as it approached. This is about another mile or two up the tracks from last night's incident. If the train was approaching in a similar fashion there, I could see how someone on the tracks would have very little time to react, especially if they were momentarily distracted (e.g. talking, headphones on, etc.)

not only that, but...

They do have the warning- but within seconds of them the Acela is there (and it does not slow down)- and the more scary thing is it is not always on the inside track near the fence - a lot of the time the train is on the track next to the platform- there have been times I have been on the platform at the Hyde Park station and when the Acela goes by I have felt like I was being pulled along after it and I was WELL behind the yellow line. So I can completely see how someone who was on the yellow line would not a)Have time to step back or b) be pulled along by the train.

Suicide?

I know what you're all talking about with that "pulling" feeling when a high-speed train goes by - when my grandpa used to take me to see the Long Island Rail Road trains (the faster electric ones) blow through the neighborhood station when I was a kid, they definitely created a pulling force when they passed. He was nuts about keeping me against the platform railing, not just behind the yellow line.

That said, has anyone said whether this might have been a suicide? It happens way more than people realize. A friend of mine's father who was an engineer on the LIRR said he had "several" people jump in front of trains he was driving during his 20 year career - I happened regularly enough that he was able to add, "the first few times, you're really shaken up - then you come to realize there was nothing you could do anyway, your duty is to the people on the train, and this was what a terribly troubled person wanted."

Now that's brutal.

That was my thought

People used to commit suicide by NJT quite a bit near Metropark in Edison. After a long string of "accidents" end up the same way, it's hard not to think that this is someone who wanted to be in front of that train.

Also, you pretty much have to go out of your way to get in front of an Acela in Hyde Park.

Train dangers

While this Washington Post article asserts that most Metro operators don't hit anyone, it's horrifying for those who do. Worse for engineers like the MBCR's Water Nutter, who has been at the controls for four pedestrian deaths and a recent near miss.

As for the suction, yes you can feel it, but I don't think it's enough to pull you into a moving train and especially not onto the tracks before the front of the train passes. See this very old story in the NY Times of a girl (not adult) supposedly drawn towards an LIRR train, who was hit by the steps of the first passenger car. See also this Mythbusters episode, if you trust them.

I agree, probably not suicide

The report did say the victim was with a couple of friends so I find it hard to believe someone would try to be hit by a train while with friends. I was listening to my scanner last night and it only sounded like a terrible accident.

Speed Limits?

Trains are not immune to speed limits - if this is a persistent problem in the area, they can change the speed at which they are permitted to travel.

In West Medford, the Downeaster started to cut through two school-zone crossings (one with crossing guard) at about 60 mph! It would travel fast enough that someone crossing at Canal street would have little time to react - bad, because people were crossing with small children at that time of day.

I contacted Amtrak, which put me in touch with the operator and they fixed the problem: they had recently raised the speed in that stretch because they were completely unaware that both crossings were in school zones!!!! Not to mention the platform at West Medford, which often hosts 100-200 people crowded in ...

It may be worth an e-mail to Amtrak to point out the issue - not that this incident doesn't underscore the problems.

There hasn't been a persistent issue in this area

The Northeast Corridor's really a different beast than all the other train lines around here.

There are no grade crossings there, the right of way is fenced off (if easy enough to hop in many places) and the stations along the line have these loud robo-voices that start urgently announcing "TRAIN APPROACHING! STAND BACK OF THE YELLOW LINE, AND YES, I MEAN YOU PEOPLE PLAYING CHICKEN, TOO! TRAIN APPROACHING!" a minute or two before the train flies by.

Specifically, where the guy was hit, there is a fence between two of the tracks that is further meant to discourage people from trying to cross there if they're too lazy to walk to the bridge that is right there (and as I noted, when you get to the other side, you'd still have to climb up to the bridge, anyway).

Unless this guy had a medical condition that suddenly caused him to collapse onto the tracks (and unfortunately, the evidence from last night suggests he was not lying down when hit), I don't think there was much Amtrak could have done to prevent this.

The last thing Amtrak needs is a speed restriction

I don't mean to sound insensitive about this, and I have written about the horribleness of this incident above, but the last thing I want to ask Amtrak to do is reduce the speed of the Acela - at any location - for anything other than a very well studied and documented hazard to lots and lots of people.

Making the entire Acela corridor look (or at least function) like it does in the area of this incident (grade separated, pretty much self contained) should be a major goal of Amtrak, the FRA/DOT, and each one of the state DOTs through which the NE Corridor passes.

We need faster and more reliable trains on well maintained, engineered and constructed ROWs - not 18 miles of great rail bed in Southern Mass. and Northern RI where Acela can reach its top speed followed by several hundred miles of mediocre ROW.

Let me know

Let me know if you ever wanna hear my idea for a new rail line that would go down the Pike to Albany and then turn for NYC and beyond. It would blow the Acela away.

Yeah

But I disagree with it being the best way. Going to Albany provides an Albany-NYC route that would also allow you to go Albany-Buffalo to connect to Chicago by high-speed later.

Albany would turn into a T-shaped hub to cover E/W travel and the terminal of the N/S routes.

Straight lines = speed

Because it's not just about going to Albany...it's about going even further west eventually and it's also about straightening out the line. The current route follows the shore and can't get any faster safely because of the curvature of the route...but trains are capable of going much faster safely.

Here's an example. The AVE train in Spain can go from Zaragoza to Madrid in 1:30 and that's a distance almost identical to Boston to NYC. The Acela takes 3:30. If you put in an AVE-like line down the Pike where you could get the linearity that you can't get by going down I-95, then you could probably reduce the current time to NYC in half. It would also be a dedicated line (unlike Acela) which also improves timing drastically.

Of course, we also haven't even discussed how I wouldn't even try to get a hi-speed line into NYC proper. I'd terminate it at Newark and make you take a local option into the city. Going into Penn Station with a hi-speed option is just like trying to bottle insanity. NYC is in the worst place for easy access.

'Train Approaching' warning

Yes, the Hyde Park does have those 'Train Approaching' warnings, both over the loudspeakers and flashing on the LED signs. You couldn't possibly miss them, especially at 10:30 at night...but if you're on the tracks, they won't do you a lot of good.

yeah...

i was standing right before the bridge when it happend (saw it) i was just on my way to tedesci's. it does have an announcment when th train comes.

Brutal

In the stupid days of my youth (or, considering some of what I spout now, the even stupider days) my friends and I used to walk those tracks on occasion. That is, until we were doing so one day when a train came along. We all saw it coming (maybe we heard it first) so we pressed ourselves up against a wall to let it pass. We were all amazed at how powerful the suction was. It literally pulled us away from the wall a bit - very scary. And that was just your normal everyday 1970's train, not an Acela.

Suldog
http://jimsuldog.blogspot.com

Oy!

Not really all that close (says somebody who lives about midway between the two locations). I think the initial confusion might have been because the incidents happened at about the same time and people were hearing tons of sirens (I heard about Durnell first and thought the sirens we heard were related to that; they were more likely firetrucks heading to Hyde Park).

That having been said, no, I haven't asked anybody of the official ilk about that. If I were a betting man, I'd bet Durnell was related to the small but persistent clique of drug dealers who seem to keep setting up shop along that side of Washington Street - and who seem to keep getting shot up - while Hyde Park was just, well, a guy on the tracks. But I could be wrong.

Doubt it

I was listening to both events unfold over my scanner and did not hear anything to suggest any sort of connection whatsoever. Seemed to be just coincidence. The only connection I could see was the dispatcher trying to shuffle police resources between the two incidents and call in extra help from other parts of the city. Hats off to him for taking control of the frequency and making sure officers didn't talk over one another between the two incidents. He was trying to ensure that people were off the tracks as the phantom rescue train was supposedly approaching on the tracks and telling officers where to go to support the search for the suspect(s) after the shooting at the same time.

Re: Law-enforcement source says no connection

Thanks for looking into it. I am on the circulation list of one of the Boston area police/fire breaking news services and when both stories broke, it was unclear if there was any connection. My first thought was of Det. Thomas Gill, killed on the tracks in Brighton in 1988 while searching for a gun discarded by a suspect. My condolences to the family of last night's victim.

I almost got hit in the exact same spot

I almost got hit in the exact same spot when i was 15 coming home from the skate park. Legit same exact spot. There is a curve in the track so you cant see it coming at all. It's really silent, you can only hear the tracks start to vibrate about 10 seconds before the train passes. It is the closest I've ever been to death. I was trying to hop the small 4ft fence between the inbound and outbound tracks. I was literally 6 inches from being blasted in the head by a moving train. Scary shit.

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