PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A teenage boy was hit and killed by a train Saturday evening as he was taking his senior photos, said the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office.
The student was identified as an Estacada student by the Estacada School District.
The school district released the following statement on Facebook Monday morning:
“On Saturday a young member of the Estacada community passed away. The Estacada School District’s thoughts will continue to be with this family, and we offer our deepest condolences.
Our entire district is grieved by this sudden loss. Estacada School District staff are supporting students at school by providing spaces and opportunities to talk, grieve, and meet with counseling staff. Impacted families are encouraged to reach out if their students may need additional support at this time. Providing support for our students and staff remains a top priority as our community experiences this loss.”
Deputies were called out to the tracks the Union Pacific train was on near the Columbia River Highway in Troutdale around 6 p.m., however, the 17-year-old student was declared dead at the scene.
Union Pacific said none of the crew members were hurt in the fatal incident. The railroad company released a statement that read, in part:
“Our thoughts are with the teen’s family and friends. We plead with parents, students and photographers to not take photos on or near the tracks.”
The MCSO Crash Team is conducting the investigation. The Medical Examiner’s Office has not released the identity of the student.
Operation Lifesaver, a nonprofit rail safety education organization, advises photographers to not take photos on train tracks or trestles — especially as today’s trains are quieter than ever.
Operation Lifesaver Executive Director Steve Kreins said many people don’t realize it’s against the law.
“They don’t know it’s actually a misdemeanor. It is a crime to trespass, but they go out on the tracks and take these photos and an incident like this happens,” said Kreins.
Trains can’t stop quickly, and the average train overhangs the track by at least 3 feet. Plus, looking through a lens creates an optical illusion, making it hard to determine a train’s distance — and it’s speed.
Here are Operation Lifesaver’s 6 “must-know” facts for professional photographers considering a photoshoot near tracks:
- Trains can’t stop quickly to avoid people or vehicles on the tracks.
- An optical illusion makes it hard to determine a train’s distance from you – and its speed.
- The average train overhangs the track by at least three feet.
- Railroad tracks, trestles, yards and rights-of-way are private property.
- No tracks should be assumed to be abandoned or inactive.
- People mimic your behavior when they see your photos on the web and social media.
“This is a tragedy for the family, community and train crew. I think an important message to get out of the community is that the only thing that belongs on those tracks are trains,” he said.
KOIN 6 News will continue to follow this story.