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Students Warned About Railroad Tracks
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With the reopening of school this week, Riverbank school district trustee John Mitchell Jr. said it's an appropriate time to warn all residents and especially school children to take care in the vicinity of railroad tracks.

Mitchell recalled the Riverbank High student who was hit by a train a few years ago at the Patterson Road and First Street intersection while walking home from school; the young woman with another woman and several children onboard who were all killed when she stopped her vehicle too close to the tracks, felt trapped by traffic behind and pulled into the path of a the oncoming train on Claribel Road at Terminal Avenue; and other fatal incidents in the area years before that.

The woman's family has just filed a lawsuit against the railroad company claiming the design of the crossing was at fault.

Mike McReynolds, a retired railroad engineer who used to give safety talks at local schools as a volunteer representative of the railroad companies' Operation Lifesaver campaign, added his words of warning.

Railroads are private property and it's both illegal and dangerous to trespass on them, especially walk along them, he noted. The only legal place to cross railroad tracks even on foot is at a designated crossing and even then you need to be very aware of your surroundings.

Friends of the boy who was killed at Patterson and First said he was wearing headphones, walking along the tracks and could not hear the train coming from behind. They both saw and heard the train and tried to warn him by yelling and even throwing stones at him. McReynolds said the police looked for headphones but did not find any.

A railroad official recently complained to city council members about young people taking short cuts across the railcar marshalling yards just south of Riverbank, climbing the wall at night and ducking among the railcars, which workers are moving around to assemble trains.

This is extremely dangerous, McReynolds said, because there is no warning when or which direction the railcars will move.