Train tracks must be treated with respect they deserve

One of the depressing parts of media work is providing information to the public about senseless, pointless deaths.

One of the depressing parts of media work is providing information to the public about senseless, pointless deaths. One of these deaths occurred in Leduc this past week.

Leduc RCMP released information about a death that occurred on or near train tracks in the city. Cpl. Laurel Scott stated, “On the morning of August 1 Leduc RCMP responded to a report of human remains found by a passerby on the railroad tracks near Highway 2A and 50 Street in Leduc. Officers arrived on scene to find a deceased adult male with injuries consistent with a train versus pedestrian collision. The Leduc RCMP were assisted in their investigation by Leduc Fire Services and CP Police Service. Leduc RCMP believe that the collision occurred sometime after 10 p.m. Sunday evening. The identity of the deceased male is not known at the time of this release.”

In order to identify this poor fellow, the police also released a description of items of clothing the young man was wearing at the time of his death. One of the items was a fairly distinctive jacket that seemed like an item which could quickly identify the victim.

Within two days, police had identified this unfortunate young man. Cpl. Scott stated on Aug. 3, “The RCMP want to thank the public for their assistance and are reporting that they no longer require the public’s assistance in identifying the male who died as a result of being struck by a train.

“A 17-year-old youth from Leduc has been identified. As a matter of privacy, the RCMP will not be naming him. Investigation into this fatality continues by the Leduc RCMP in collaboration with CP Police. Foul play does not appear to be a factor in this occurrence and consequently there will be no further updates by the RCMP.”

As no further information is being released, the exact circumstances that led to this poor fellow being hit by a train can only be guessed at. But there is a very likely explanation that seems to be happening more and more often.

Digital music on portable devices is hugely popular, and lots of people enjoy listening to music or talk radio as they’re walking, jogging or cycling. Listening to portable devices like these require headphones or earbuds. Anyone using these can’t usually hear anything else around them.

There have been numerous instances over the past several years of people walking down or near train tracks while wearing headphones or earbuds, oblivious to the fact that a train is approaching them from behind. Many people likely have the thought, “There aren’t that many trains around. There won’t be any trains coming down this track.”

As the energy industry continues to grapple with pipeline projects being delayed, shelved or cancelled, other avenues must be utilized to transport oil or gas. Trains are an effective and economic solution. By some accounts, this has led to an increase in the number of trains moving in the system.

Regardless though of whether the number of trains has increased or not, everyone in the community needs to treat trains tracks and crossings with the respect they deserve.

Technically, the rail right-of-way is private property, and no one should be walking along the tracks in the first place. To walk along the tracks with headphones on is dangerous in the extreme, and completely unnecessary.

Pedestrians need to be aware of their surroundings, especially when they have headphones or earbuds on. They must look both ways when walking across train tracks when listening to music, or roads for that matter.

There are plenty of safe alternatives for pedestrians to use in all the nearby communities. Don’t risk death or serious injury just to save a minute or two on a shortcut.