Two men hit by a MARC train in southern Washington County on Friday after inner-tubing down the Potomac River were identified by Maryland State Police yesterday as Philip Charles Bricken, 20, and Michael Charles Caputo, 21, both of North Potomac.
Bricken, Caputo and two friends had just pulled their inner tubes out of the Potomac at Sandy Hook, Md., after a day of floating downstream when the accident occurred just before 7 p.m., police said.
The friends had gone to get their car, which was parked about a quarter-mile away, leaving Bricken and Caputo to wait with the inner tubes. Police say the two men were crossing the railroad tracks, sitting on them or standing nearby when the train came around a curve at about 50 mph.
"For reasons we may never know, they didn't hear the train coming, and they didn't see the train coming," said Trooper Russ Plante at the state police barracks in Hagerstown. The impact sent their bodies flying more than 80 feet, Plante said.
A Hagerstown man, Rocky White, ran to the men to check for signs of life, according to the Hagerstown Herald-Mail, but they were dead.
The train stopped on the tracks about a quarter-mile from the accident. The approximately 50 passengers on board were transferred to another train, police said.
Police say they found 14 empty beer cans in a backpack retrieved at the scene from one of the dead men. Police said they hope an autopsy will reveal whether alcohol was a factor in the accident.
Police said the train engineer was cooperative and probably could not have avoided the accident. "There's a very limited view out of the front of those things," Plante said, adding that no charges were expected.
Both men attended Montgomery College, according to a mutual friend. They reportedly met at Thomas S. Wootton High School in Montgomery County.
Bricken's grandmother, Marion Corddry, said Bricken was an enthusiastic guitar player and athlete.
"He was so full of life," she said. "This was the most positive kid you ever saw. He lighted up a room the minute he walked into it."