A South Carolina man was killed Tuesday night in rural Hopkins County after falling through a hole on a train he and two others were illegally traveling on, according to sheriff’s reports.
The man was found east of County Road 2319 along the railroad tracks by a Kansas City Southern worker at 9:24 p.m. Tuesday. His two traveling companions, a man and woman, called 911 to report him falling off the train around 7:30 p.m. The call went to Camp County dispatchers, who alerted KSC of a person falling off one of their trains.
KCS sent a railroad safety employee along the track from Pittsburg west, following the tracks into Hopkins County looking for the man who fell off. He contacted Hopkins County Sheriff’s Office at 9:24 p.m. to report he’d located a man dead along side the track just east of County Road 2391 in Pickton. Deputies and sheriff’s investigators responded. Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Yvonne King was notified to pronounce the death.
The two passengers were taken off the train in Pittsburg and arrested for criminal trespass on the train, which continued east to Hughes Springs. The tracks in Hughes Springs, located at the junction of Cass and Morris counties, has a switch which allowed the train to be removed from the main tracks out of the line of other scheduled trains so it could be examined by investigators, according to G.K. McLarry with Hopkins County Sheriff’s Office.
The KCS employee told Hopkins County dispatchers that the man and woman in custody in Pittsburg reported they had gotten on the train in Wylie. The deceased reportedly fell through the floor of the train car they were traveling on.
HCSO Chief Investigator Lewis Tatum, along with Texas Ranger John Vance, went to Hughes Springs to inspect the train, then interviewed the dead man’s traveling companions in Pittsburg.
Tatum said information they gleaned supported what the pair had told authorities earlier, that “two white males and a white female boarded the train in Wylie at a train yard there, then were traveling on the train through here when one white male fell through a hole in the car. They were en route to Florida for the winter.”
The train car was a hauler, open with short sides and holes in the bottom, the kind used to haul large box trailers.
“He was adjusting his position and fell through a hole south of Pickton,” Tatum said. “The pair riding with him had a cell phone and a time later, after deciding what they should do, called 911.”
The man reportedly fell through the floor under the train, which was said to be traveling at a rate of 50 miles per hour, and was thrown off the tracks on the south side, sheriff’s officers noted.
The name of the deceased has not been released as authorities have yet to notify man’s next of kin of his death. His driver’s license lists a Greenville, S.C. address for the 35-year-old.
An autopsy has been ordered in the death, as is standard procedures in that type of death, but officials had found no indication anything other than what the pair had reported had occurred.
“We do not at this time think it’s anything other than an accident, but will wait for the autopsy findings before we can close this case,” Tatum said later Wednesday morning.
He did not however that the South Carolina man’s fellow travelers indicated they’d consumed three boxes of wine among them, so alcohol likely will be a contributing factor.
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