Police, Fire, Courts

September 30, 2012

Man killed in train accident identified

PLATTSBURGH — The man struck and killed by a train Friday afternoon was visiting family here.

Issa Makhoul, 74, was attempting to walk across the tracks in front of a Canadian-Pacific freight train at about 2 p.m., City Police said Saturday.

Rescue crews rushed to the area of Hyde Avenue and Margaret Street after calls came in that a pedestrian had been struck by a train.

Makhoul was pronounced deceased at the site, according to a statement from Plattsburgh City Police Chief Desmond Racicot. The multi-train car stood motionless in the city for several hours as police detectives collected evidence and interviewed witnesses.

Racicot said traffic patterns around the accident were diverted as Boynton Avenue, Riley Avenue, Hyde Avenue and Margaret Street had to be completely closed. Crowds gathered on both sides of the train after authorities secured the area with yellow police tape.

Shortly after arriving, police set up a high-tech, FARO Focus 3-dimensional laser scanner, which captures every detail of the accident through animation and high-definition photograph scans from various vantage points. Police were also seen inspecting the freight train and interviewing the conductor.

Racicot said investigations involving train accidents can sometimes take extra time to complete because C-P Rail Police would normally have to travel from Albany to assist, but they happened to be about eight minutes away conducting training.

Together, authorities will use evidence collected after the accident, witness statements and video footage from a camera located at the front of the freight train to determine what caused the accident.

SUNY Plattsburgh Police and New York State Police assisted City Police with traffic control until the train was cleared from the area at about 5:45 p.m.

Racicot said the investigation into the fatal accident is ongoing.

The tragic incident brought back memories of another deadly train accident in 2009, which occurred nearly two years to the day of Friday's fatality.

Multiple people around the scene Friday recalled the accident two years ago, when a 23-year-old man completed suicide by jumping in front of a freight train at nearly the same location where Makhoul died.

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