The Washington Post

Fairfax teen fatally struck by VRE train; some service canceled

Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified Clara Barton Drive as Clara Barton Parkway. This version has been corrected.

A Fairfax County teenager was fatally struck by a Virginia Railway Express commuter train early Wednesday morning, shutting down part of the line that carries passengers from Prince William County to the District.

Fairfax County police said they are investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of 15-year-old Jack Chen. Chen was struck about 5:25 a.m. in the 11500 block of Clara Barton Drive. It is the second time this year that a person has been struck by a train along VRE’s Manassas line.

VRE officials had initially decided to delay service on the line by two hours for the Wednesday morning commute but later canceled the service. The number of trains during the afternoon commute was cut in half.

“There was nothing else we could do,” VRE spokesman Bryan Jungwirth said. “They shut everything down for an investigation. That bottlenecked everything. The only choice we had was to cancel train service.”

Chen, a sophomore at Fairfax’s W.T. Woodson High School, was pronounced dead at the scene.

“Jack was an excellent student, bright and cheerful and very well liked by all who knew him. He will be greatly missed,” Woodson Principal Jeff Yost said in a statement to the school community Wednesday afternoon.

Counseling will be available for staff and students, he added.

VRE carries about 10,000 commuters on an average weekday on its two lines in the Manassas and Fredericksburg areas, officials said. Wednesday’s incident affected roughly 4,700 passengers who ride the 16 trains that run in the morning and evening rush hours on an average weekday.

About 350 people were aboard the train that struck Chen, VRE officials said. Those riders were transported by shuttle buses to VRE’s station at West Falls Church. Metro honored VRE riders’ tickets.

In mid-January, a woman in her early 20s was struck while crossing the tracks near Burke in Fairfax on the Manassas line, which disrupted service. She also died.

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Dana Hedgpeth is a Post reporter, working the early morning, reporting on traffic, crime and other local issues.



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