Freight Train Collision Kills 3, Including Child

( – Two adults and a child died after they were struck by a freight train in Fairfax County, Virginia. First responders found the three bodies after receiving a 911 call from a woman walking in the area. The tragedy happened on a railway bridge over Accotink Creek when a northbound Norfolk Southern train hit three people walking along the railway track at around 8.20 pm on June 5. One of the adults died from the train strike, while the other adult and child died in the creek below. There were no other injuries, but Norfolk Southern closed the tracks soon afterward.

Police later identified the victims as 28-year-old Diego Arriaza, 28-year-old Yeraldin Pardo, and an unnamed 8-year-old. Investigations are ongoing, but police say there were no immediate indications that alcohol or excessive speed were factors.

Just before the accident, photos of a young boy sitting on a train trestle in the area were posted to Instagram, and witnesses described hearing a train sounding its horn near the Accotink Creek bridge. Others told reporters that people commonly hike in the area, which is also home to a popular lake.

Residents organized a vigil for the victims where people gathered to lay flowers and light candles in prayer. Norfolk Southern issued a statement saying it is cooperating fully with police investigations and, “Our thoughts are with the family and loved ones of those involved in this tragic incident.”

Jennifer DeAngelis from the rail safety organization Operation Lifesaver said people often assume that tracks, particularly in rural areas, are unused. However, she warned, “Whenever you see tracks, you should always think train.” She likewise pointed out that freight trains tend not to follow schedules, making their arrival unpredictable.

Across the United States, railway deaths numbered 954 in 2022, an increase of 11% from the previous year. Non-fatal injuries totaled 6,252, indicating a 6% rise from 2021. Most fatalities – 651 – result from trespassing on tracks.

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