Student listening to MP3 player dies in railroad track accident
A Thomasville High School student has been identified as the person who was hit and killed by a train Tuesday night on Main Street.
According to a Thomasville Police Department press release, Paul Anthony Taylor, 18, of Swanee Lane, died as a result of injuries he sustained after an Amtrak train heading southbound on the railroad tracks separating East and West Main streets struck him at approximately 7 p.m in front of the former Thomasville Furniture Industries showroom. Evidence from the scene indicates Taylor may have been listening to an MP3 player at the time and did not hear the train or its horn.
"The investigation is continuing," said Sgt. Brad Saintsing. "We're also working with the Amtrak people. Trains have a black box much like airplanes and we're waiting to get information from it. This is a very unfortunate incident."
TPD and emergency personnel responded to the area of 401 E. Main St. at 7:09 p.m. The Amtrak engineer reported seeing a person walking along the southbound tracks who did not respond when the emergency horn was activated. The engineer placed the train in emergency stop but did not have enough time to avoid hitting Taylor. The train was traveling an estimated 79 mph when it struck Taylor, who died at the scene.
"Based on statements, the victim never turned around [when the engineer sounded the horn]," said Saintsing. "That's an indication that he may been listening to music."
THS Principal Deboy Beamon said students were notified of Taylor's death Wednesday morning about 11:30 a.m. Taylor, a junior and one of four children in his family to attend THS, has a sister in the ninth grade.
"We're all in shock," said Beamon. "He was a good kid. He was a very intelligent, popular, handsome guy. I know his family really well. They are very supportive. They're good people. It's a tragedy."
Thomasville City Schools Superintendent Keith Tobin said grief counselors are available at THS for all students and faculty affected by Tuesday's tragedy.
"It's very sad," Tobin said. "My heart and prayers go out to the family. It's a tough time for the school and the community when you lose someone like that. We'll do what's right for our students and faculty to try and make it through this tragic event."
Tuesday's train fatality is the second to occur in Thomasville in less than a year. On July 17, 2012, Larry Barnes was struck and killed by a train on the railroad tracks under the bridge on Interstate 85 Business east of East Triad Boulevard.
Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or firstname.lastname@example.org.