EAST GREENWICH, R.I. (WPRI) — An investigation is underway after a high school student was struck and killed by an Amtrak train in East Greenwich over the weekend.
East Greenwich Police said the 16-year-old girl died on the elevated tracks near King Street at about 2:30 p.m. Sunday, but declined to comment on the circumstances that led to the incident.
Neighbors said the girl was walking on the tracks with her sister before she was hit.
“I’m sorry for the girl’s family. I couldn’t imagine what they’re going through and all their friends,” said Daniel Raposa of East Greenwich.
“My sister-in-law was the first one on scene when it happened and she was over in the parking lot and she saw the other girl’s sister,” Raposa continued. “I’m glad my sister-in-law was there to pray. They both dropped to their knees and started praying. ”
The teen attended West Warwick High School, Superintendent Karen Tarasevich confirmed on Monday.
The school, with assistance from West Warwick Police and the Kent Center, will offer counseling support for students. The principal sent a phone message out to parents Monday morning.
“Everyone was really emotional and crying and some people were trying not to cry, but they just did,” said Asia Johnson, a friend of the victim.
According to Amtrak Police, the Northeast Regional train was heading from Boston to Washington D.C. with 378 people on board.
Amtrak spokesperson Mike Tolbert said the train tops out at 125 miles per hour and it takes several miles to stop if the engineer sees a person on the tracks.
To access the tracks at that location, one must climb a hill and proceed through a gate, which neighbors said was unlocked.
A similar incident happened at the same spot less than a year ago. A 26-year-old was killed after being struck while walking on the tracks.
“Why is there a gate? Why isn’t it locked?” asked Norma Harris, who lives nearby. “Was it locked at one time, or did somebody cut the lock?”
Four people have been killed by trains in Rhode Island in the past five years, according to the Federal Railroad Administration.
Amtrak officials continue to urge people to stay off the tracks at all times.
“Everybody should learn from it and the kids should stay off the damn tracks,” added Raposa. “I always said there wasn’t very good fences and there are a thousand ways to access the tracks.”