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  • Last modified 2516 days ago (Nov. 3, 2011)

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Skirting a train tragedy

I saw something this past week that scared me to death.

I was approaching the Union Pacific Railroad crossing at Eighth Street at about 3:30 on Thursday afternoon. I was about a block and a half to the west. There was a freight train idling on the tracks. On the other side were six grade-school-age children, waiting on the train to start up again so they could cross the tracks and head in my direction.

As I continued my approach, two of the youngsters darted under the stopped freight car at the intersection and turned back to their friends, shouting and waving at them to follow. A third hustled under the train, dragging a scooter. My heart was in my throat.

I stopped my car and reached for my cell phone, hoping to call 911 and have dispatch contact the train and tell the engineer not to move until the other three decided what to do. No phone. I had forgotten to take it with me. I’m sure I stopped breathing. What to do?

I drove forward and watched. The three students on the other side of the train were just standing there, waiting. I decided they were going to play it safe and I took a breath. About a minute later, the train jerked to life, one car at a time, and started south down the railroad tracks.

As close to the wheels as those boys were when they came under the train, each of them would have died or lost a limb if the train had jumped to life when they were crawling under it.

They say we are going to have more train traffic through Peabody on both the Union Pacific and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe. It stands to reason more trains will make temporary stops in town.

If you have children or grandchildren of your own, if you teach, if you work with them in sports, scouts, Sunday school, ANYWHERE, take a few minutes to remind them not to crawl under or over the train cars or the area where the cars are coupled. And after you have done it, make it a point to offer a reminder in a month or so.

The above events happened in a few moments and luckily no one was hurt. However, a dropped school book, a glance backward, a scooter pedal hung up on the tracks, and I could be typing a child’s obituary today.

— Susan Marshall

Last modified Nov. 3, 2011

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