Man Killed by Amtrak Train Near Lorton

By Tom Jackman and Lena Sun
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 24, 2009; 3:55 PM

A man walking alongside train tracks in southern Fairfax County was struck and killed by a southbound Amtrak train this morning, Fairfax police said.

The incident happened about 11:44 a.m. near the intersection of Lorton Road and Gunston Cove Road, where CSX tracks run parallel to Interstate 95 in the Lorton area, police said. Police did not know the man's identity but said he was a black man in his 50s wearing a United Parcel Service uniform and sweater, and black sweatpants.

Officer Shelley Broderick, a Fairfax police spokeswoman, said the train operator spotted the man walking next to the tracks, wearing ear muffs. The operator sounded the horn and the man, with his back to the tracks, then stepped on to the tracks, Broderick said. The operator activated the train's emergency equipment to stop the train quickly, but the man turned toward the train and it did not stop before striking him.

The police's accident reconstruction unit was investigating and had not determined if the man was trying to commit suicide or simply didn't hear the train, Broderick said.

Amtrak said the train, "the Carolinian," was traveling from New York to Charlotte with 108 passengers. No one was injured on the train, which resumed moving about 1:45 p.m., Amtrak said. The authorized speed for trains in that area is about 70 miles per hour, an Amtrak spokesman said.

Both Amtrak and Virginia Railway Express operate on the tracks running through Lorton, which are owned by CSX. The incident caused some delays for the VRE's early train from Union Station to Fredericksburg, which normally leaves at 12:55 p.m. But VRE spokesman Mark Roeber said the delays were only about 25 minutes.

Commuter rail service that starts at 4 p.m. should not be affected by delays, Roeber said. Police officials have informed rail personnel that they expect to finish their investigation and clear the tracks by then.

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