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Lawsuit Filed in Clay County Teen Train Trestle Death

Posted on June 13, 2008

The 17-year old Clay County high school football player who was struck and killed by a train last month was doing what many people in the Black Creek area regularly do- fish from the railroad bridge.

Wesley Whiddon Jr. was killed May 14, when he could not escape the CSX train that had just rounded a corner. His two friends jumped off the train trestle and suffered minor injuries.

Now his mother is suing for wrongful death and is blaming the railroad and its senior road foreman of engines.

The trestle was a hangout spot for Clay County residents that liked to go fishing and to cross Black Creek.

The lawsuit says that the railroad did not have the area properly closed or fenced off or adequate warning signs about the dangers of walking near the trestle.

Channel 4 reports that four trespassing signs are posted at either end of the trestle.  The lawsuit also claims that the train was going at an excessive speed and that Whiddon didn’;t have enough time to get away before being struck.

David Jones, the conductor, says that when he rounded the corner, he was traveling about 35 to 40 mph and he thought the boys would jump off the tracks as people usually do.  When that didn’;t happen, he says he applied the emergency brake.

According to Operation Lifesaver, a nonprofit group trying to reduce pedestrian collisions at railroad crossings, about 5,000 people have been killed by walking along railroad tracks and at crossings.

These unfortunate accidents are reminders that it is never safe to walk or drive down a train track and it is also illegal.  Train  trestles are never wide enough for both you and the entire width of the train.