April 22--Alamogordo Police Department detectives continue their investigation of a 54-year-old homeless man killed after the man was hit by a train Friday night, an APD spokesman said.
Detective Sgt. Ryan Glidden said APD officers and Alamogordo Fire Department personnel responded to a fatal train versus pedestrian in the area east of Alameda Park on the railroad tracks between 10th and Canal streets around 9:21 p.m.
APD Capt. Roger Schoolcraft said the man was pronounced deceased at the scene by a field deputy from the Office of the Medical Investigator.
Schoolcraft said APD detectives will release the man's name pending notification of next of kin.
"It's still under investigation as far as how he ended up on the tracks," he said. "Train safety is paramount. We're not sure how he ended up on the tracks but the fact of the matter people need to be cognizant of the trains. They need to stay away from the railroad tracks."
Schoolcraft said it's not only considered trespassing when someone ventures onto the railroad tracks but it's extremely dangerous to do it.
Union Pacific owns about 25 feet of the property on both sides of the tracks, according to their website.
"A lot people don't realize that trains have railings and stairs sticking out from the actual engine," Schoolcraft said. "The steps and railings protrude out from the engine a little way. In the past, the people who've been hit by the railings or steps. The best thing to do is just stay away from the railroad tracks. If they're walking and need to cross the tracks, they need to walk to one of the railroad crossings."
Prior to Friday night's fatal accident, a woman was hit by a Union Pacific train while walking near the railroad tracks behind McDonald's in the early morning hours in March 2016.
The woman was airlifted by helicopter to University Medical Center in El Paso for treatment of her injuries.
It takes a 6,000-ton train traveling at 55 mph over one mile or 18 football fields to come to a complete stop. For an automobile traveling 55 mph, it takes only 200 feet.
About every three hours, a person or vehicle is hit by a train, according to the Operation Lifesaver website. The website also emphasizes "See Tracks? Think Train."
2017 had no reported train accidents in Otero County with Friday's accident being the first one of 2018.
In 2015, there also were no reported train accidents in Otero County but Union Pacific had the one reported accident in March 2016.
In 2014 a Union Pacific railroad train slightly struck a Fort Bliss U.S. Army vehicle at 10th Street and White Sands Boulevard. No one was injured in the accident.
In 2013 Union Pacific had a fatal accident in Logan, N.M. and one fatal vehicle accident south of Alamogordo. Alamogordo also had a 2013 fatal pedestrian accident near First Street and a fatal pedestrian accident near the Charlie Lee Memorial Route overpass and South White Sands Boulevard. They also had three non-fatal accidents in Duran, one at Snake Tank Road and one in El Paso.
Prior to that, Union Pacific had no accidents for three years.
According to the Operation Lifesaver website, national rail crossing accident statistics show that from 2014 to 2015 train collisions dropped by 10.1 percent, deaths dropped 7.7 percent but injuries increased 12.3 percent while trespassing or pedestrian accidents increased by 2 percent, deaths by 7.6 percent but injuries dropped by 4.3 percent.
For more information about railroad safety go online to the Operation Lifesaver's website at oli.org.
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