September 29, 2012

Man killed by train in downtown Plattsburgh


---- — PLATTSBURGH — An elderly man was struck and killed by a train Friday afternoon as he tried to cross Margaret Street in Plattsburgh.

City Police and Fire Department ambulance crews rushed to the area near the railroad crossing near Hyde Avenue just before 2 p.m. when a call came in that someone had been struck.

Plattsburgh City Police Chief Desmond Racicot said the man was hit by the Canadian-Pacific freight train as he walked across the railroad tracks.

Friday evening, police were still attempting to identify the man and contact his family to notify them of the accident. His name has not been released.

City Police had to reroute traffic on both Miller and Margaret streets following the accident, while investigators combed through the site and gathered information from witnesses.

Onlookers gathered on both streets near the accident, standing behind yellow police tape, wondering what had happened.

A visibly upset woman said she saw, from her apartment window at on Delord Street, a man being dragged by the train.

“I was looking out the window and my dog started howling when we heard the train,” she said, wiping back tears. “I just saw the train trying to stop with what looked like a man underneath it. After that, I just started shaking and crying.”

Police were speaking with the engineer of the long freight train.

The city was using its new 3-D, accident-reconstruction equipment at the site.

C-P Rail Police, who would normally have to come from Albany for the investigation, happened to be in the area conducting training and were called in to help.

Racicot said the front of the train is equipped with a camera, which will also be

used to assist authorities in determining the cause of the fatal accident.

Seeing the train and police activity brought back memories of another tragic train accident for Cheryl Jaster, who lives in the neighborhood.

She was working at the Under One Roof video store in 2009 when a man was killed after being struck by a freight train.

“It was in the exact same area.  This is just awful,” Jaster said, holding her hand to her mouth.

In the 2009 accident, a 23-year-old man died when he purposely stepped in the path of the train.

SUNY Plattsburgh Police and New York State Police were also called in to assist City Police with traffic control until the train was cleared from the area at about 5:45 p.m.

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