Teen killed by train at Beverly Farms crossing
By Jill Harmacinski
BEVERLY — A Manchester boy was killed yesterday morning after he apparently ignored the flashing lights and closed gates at a railroad crossing and rode his bike into the path of an oncoming commuter train.
David Siljeholm, 14, was biking ahead of his mother and younger sister on his way to school when he crossed the tracks at Hale and West streets at 7:49 a.m. and put himself directly in front of commuter train 1061 out of Rockport.
The boy's mother and sister did not see the train hit the boy because he was so far ahead of them. They caught up to the crossing just seconds after the accident occurred, police said.
"It was horrible. I'll never forget it," said Mike Monroe, who was working at a construction site nearby when the accident occurred. "It sounded like a crack of lightning. I saw the crumpled tire and school papers flying through the air."
Two Beverly patrolmen who were working the construction detail heard the crash and ran toward the railroad tracks. Patrolman Michael Bucci sprinted 150 feet down the tracks where the train had dragged the boy, while Patrolman Phillip Mitchell tried to comfort the boy's mother, Anita Brewer-Siljeholm, according to a police report.
The boy suffered severe head and facial injuries and there were "no signs of life at the scene," according to both police and fire reports.
Siljeholm was pronounced dead at Beverly Hospital, where he was taken by ambulance.
Siljeholm was an eighth-grader at the Cape Ann Waldorf School, a private school for grades one through eight on Hale Street, exactly one mile away from the railroad crossing.
The train's engineer told investigators he saw the boy "casually" enter the railroad crossing on his bike. The engineer said he immediately activated an emergency brake, hoping he'd just clip the back tire on the boy's bike.
Two conductors aboard the train said they never saw or heard anything. They learned of the accident only after the train came to an abrupt halt, according to a police report. The accident took place about a half mile from the Beverly Farms train station.
MBTA police would not comment on how fast the train was going when it hit the boy. But an MBTA engineer who regularly travels on that stretch of tracks said the five-car train, with about 500 commuters on board, was probably going about 50 mph.
"And he'd already be braking because he'd be stopping at the Beverly Farms train station," said Alan MacMillan, a commuter train engineer who lives in Rockport.
MacMillan drove an earlier commuter train that passed through the Hale and West street crossing yesterday morning. Neither MacMillan nor MBTA officials would identify the engineer involved in the accident.
"I'm sure he's overcome with grief," said MacMillan. "The whole railroad community feels his grief."
Any engineer involved in a fatal accident is given three days off and immediate counseling, MacMillan said.
"Obviously, this is a very shocking time for the engineer and any individual who witnessed this accident," said Lydia Rivera, an MBTA spokeswoman.
Any MBTA employees affected by the crash are offered support services, she said.
Within minutes of the accident, teams of investigators from Beverly and state police and the MBTA, which has jurisdiction over state railroads, swarmed the railroad crossing.
Police photographed the scene, took a series of measurements and interviewed witnesses. Meanwhile, the boy's bike lay on its side in the middle of the tracks. Magazines, books, papers and clothing were scattered about.
As part of the probe, investigators tested the yellow flashing lights and drop gates at the railroad crossing and determined that both were working properly, police and MBTA officials said.
The commuter train sat on the tracks for hours yesterday morning. Commuters aboard the train were transferred to another commuter train and buses, Rivera said. The tracks were reopened to train traffic around 11 a.m.
Staff writer Jill Harmacinski can be reached at 978-338-2652 or by email at JHarmacinski@ecnnews.com.
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When will people learn that those lights and gates are not there just for show!!!!!!!!!!!!!! My condolences to this brother engineer.
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10-14-2004, 03:40 PM #1
Another child loses his life,playing a deadly game.I dont suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
10-15-2004, 01:14 PM #2
If people would just retain one thought about trains, it should be:
They can't stop. You can."Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”
--General James Mattis, USMC
10-15-2004, 01:43 PM #3
Its a shame that tragedies like this happen....if only people would pay attention to those signs, gates and lights they are there for a reason!! Living in a town that has a train station this happens once or twice every other year and its a shame because the witness stories are always the same every time ( He/She looked like they were in a hurry and went around the gates) I know its not the case in this situation but people need to educate there kids...and then pay attention to the signs themselves so this kind of stuff dont happen. I feel bad for the family and I cant imagine what the conductor is going through right nowAndrew
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