South Bend Police are investigating their second pedestrian versus train death in a week, having identified the most recent victim as Elijah Brooks, 16. Brooks was struck by a westbound train at approximately 4 p.m. Saturday, June 27.
According to police, Brooks was walking home when he was hit by the train near the 1700 block of South Caroline Street in South Bend. Foul play is not suspected, nor is it believed that any illegal substances were involved.
So far, all that can be assumed is that Brooks perhaps misjudged how far away the train was or how fast it was traveling when he attempted to cross the tracks.
“The smartest thing to do is simply stay away from these train tracks,” said Lt. Gene Eyster, South Bend Police Department. “If you’re going to walk, walk some distance away from them or walk parallel to them, cross at a crossing and be aware that there’s nothing going either direction.”
Eyster also stated that there has been an increase in the number of people struck and killed by trains this year. Five have died since May 1.
Brooks was supposed to attend the races at the South Bend Motor Speedway with his grandfather Saturday night. His death was announced over the P.A. system, with race enthusiasts asked to hold the family in prayer.
“He was just at the wrong place at the wrong time,” said family friend Terry Karre, who spent 30 years in railroad management.
Police say it is considered a misdemeanor to trespass on railroad property, which extends to both sides of the tracks.