SPANISH FORK, Utah – A 5-year-old boy died Sunday after being struck by a train, and officials said there were three children playing on the train tracks as the vehicle approached.
Lt. Matt Johnson of the Spanish Fork Police Department said the children were playing on train tracks in the area of 1200 East and 400 North when a train approached at about 40 miles per hour; the incident occurred around 5:30 p.m.
Two of the children made it clear of the tracks and were not injured, but the 5-year-old boy could not get out of the way as the freight train approached. A press release from Spanish Fork Police Department said the other two children were the boy's 7-year-old sister and 7-year-old cousin.
Amanda Larson lives nearby, and she spoke about the crash.
"You just heard the brakes like you've never heard them before," she said. "And you could smell rubber. I'll never forget the sound and the smell, and I just ran over there."
Larson said she ran toward the train, where she saw a woman who had stopped her car at the crossing and tried to honk her horn to warn the children to get clear.
"And she said she saw the boy, he couldn't make up his mind whether to go left or right--and then just, then we heard the brakes," she said.
The engineer on the train stated it appeared as if the boy "froze" and was unable to jump out of the way, according to the press release.
Larson said she and others jumped over the train to find the boy, who was in a canal nearby.
"He was in the ditch, face down in the water," she said. "...We just flipped him over, and started to do CPR."
The child was taken to Primary Children's Hospital by helicopter, and later Sunday evening officials stated the child died due to injuries suffered in the impact.
Neighbors said this isn't the first time they have seen children, including the child who was killed, playing on or near the tracks.
The press release states the victim lived at the nearby Diamond Fork Apartment complex, which is adjacent to the railroad crossing. The release states the three children had been playing at a playground at the complex and then left that area and traveled onto the tracks.
The train is owned by Burlington Northern Santa Fe. Police initially stated it was a Union Pacific train, but a Union Pacific spokesman said, while the rail is shared by Union Pacific and BNSF, the train is owned by BNSF.
The name of the victim has not yet been released, pending notification to his family.