Before dawn Tuesday morning, Boris Gamazaychikov made the short walk to the scene of the CSX train derailment in Ellicott City and found what he was hoping he wouldn’t.
A friend had called Gamazaychikov, 20, about 1 a.m. after seeing tweets from their mutual friend Rose L. Mayr indicating that she and a friend were drinking on top of the Ellicott City sign.
Then Gamazaychikov started seeing news about the train accident on Twitter and reports that two unidentified people had been killed. After he arrived at the scene, Gamazaychikov figured it out before anyone else did, he said.
His friend Rose was dead, along with Elizabeth C. Nass. Both 19-year-olds were apparently on a walkway alongside the track around midnight when a coal train derailed near Main Street in the historic downtown area of Ellicott City.
The teens were crushed by coal that fell from the derailed car, authorities said.
Mayr and Nass were both graduates of Mount Hebron High School in Ellicott City, according to school Principal Scott Ruehl.
“They were sweet girls, good students,” he said.
Ruehl announced the news of the girls’ deaths to the staff Tuesday morning so they could help any students who need assistance in the coming days.
“It’s tragic for the family and it’s tragic for the school,” Ruehl said. “We’re a close-knit community, and I believe it’s going to affect not just the family of the girls but the families of others in the community.”
Mayr attended the University of Delaware, where she was a nursing major in her junior year, according to a college spokesperson.
Nass attended James Madison University in Virginia. She also was entering her junior year, majoring in interdiscipinary liberal studies. Don Egle, a university spokesman, said Nass was a member of the Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority and was in the university’s honors program.
“It’s just a tragic accident,” Egle said. “It really is a true loss. We are mourning the loss as a community and our hearts go out to Elizabeth’s family and friends.”
Donya Mossadeghi, one of Nass’s sorority sisters, called her “a joy to talk to” and someone who “would never say a bad thing about anybody.”
Tori Mace of Ellicott City knew Mayr through mutual friends. “She was really fun, really friendly,” Mace said.
Nass was well-liked, said Paul Crenshaw, Learning Center manager at Massanutten Resort in McGaheysville, Va., where Nass worked as a ski instructor last winter. Crenshaw said she had been expected to return next winter.
Gamazaychikov, of Ellicott City, who uses the name “Detale” as a musician, had recorded a song in 2010 with Mayr called “Don’t Worry,” which was posted to YouTube.
He said the two dated for more than two years and remained close. He also said that they spent the summer together, and that he last saw her Sunday when they went camping and watched the TV series “Breaking Bad.”
“I feel like I’m losing part of myself,” he said today, his voice breaking. “She’s the kind of person you don’t get to meet very often.”
A person who answered the telephone at Nass’ home declined to comment, as did a family member who answered the phone at a number listed for the Mayr family.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.