The 37-year-old actor, reality TV star and fitness model had filmed on a railroad track in the past. In promotional workout videos shot outside Los Angeles, he lifted barbells and did pushups as a train whizzed by in the background.
But on Saturday afternoon, police said, George Gregory Plitt Jr. was running ahead of a commuter train on that same stretch of railroad during a small film shoot when he was struck and killed.
“The conductor can see somebody on the tracks a distance away,” Burbank police officer Joshua Kendrick told the Associated Press. The conductor pulled the brakes and blew the horn, but “for one reason or another, unfortunately, Mr. Plitt did not get off the tracks.”
The train hit Plitt. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Plitt, who went by Greg, was a West Point graduate and U.S. Army Ranger with an affinity for adventure. He was a longtime rock climber and skydiver, parachuting from planes more than 1,000 times. He was also a recognizable face in the fitness industry, appearing on some 200 magazine covers. He was a former Calvin Klein model and an actor.
“He was fearless,” producer and friend Michael Ewing told the Los Angeles Times. “That’s why it’s so sad, but he could not outrun this last thing.”
Plitt had appeared in Bravo’s reality TV show “Work Out,” NBC’s soap opera “Days of Our Lives” and films such as “The Good Shepherd,” “Terminator Salvation” and “Grudge Match.” He was set to appear on Bravo’s “Friends to Lovers,” which premieres Monday, Variety reported.
“We couldn’t take our eyes off Greg Plitt after we cast him on ‘Work Out’ — was as nice as he was beautiful,” Bravo talk show host Andy Cohen tweeted Sunday. “Seemed invincible, like Superman.”
Late Saturday afternoon, Plitt was with a small crew, two or three people, near the Burbank Metrolink Station. Some individuals told various news outlets he was filming an action sequence. Others said he was shooting a commercial for an energy drink. A photo, which allegedly shows Plitt on the railroad track before he was hit, was published by KTLA-TV, showing a shirtless man running alongside some tracks.
It’s still unclear what led to Plitt’s death.
“We don’t know what they were filming out there and suicide has been ruled out,” Burbank police Sgt. Chris Canales told KTTV.
Individuals told TMZ that Plitt was attempting to outrun the train for the video. Friends said he miscalculated, tripped and fell — and couldn’t get up in time. Police said he may have thought the train was on another track.
“It’s like a blind turn,” Burbank police Sgt. Scott Meadows said. “When the train came, you might not be able to tell which set the train is on.”
No one on the train was injured, but some witnessed the accident.
“He had on all black,” Metrolink passenger Victor Crowell told KABC-TV. “The train went by. I saw him stumble over the tracks. He had a camcorder in his hand.”
Investigators reviewed video footage from atop the train and seized film shot by Plitt’s camera crew.
“It was just a freaky moment where something got out of control,” Warren Coulter, Plitt’s friend for 15 years, told the AP.
Walking or standing on or near the tracks without permission is considered trespassing, a misdemeanor offense. Officials said Plitt did not have authorization to be filming there, which he had reportedly done before. Metrolink spokesman Scott Johnson said when train system officials see photos or videos of people on the tracks, they try to warn them about the dangers, though he didn’t know whether Plitt was warned in the past.
“The tracks are for one thing — trains,” he said.
Plitt’s girlfriend, Christina Stejskal, told the L.A. Times he was “trying to get the best shot.”
“He wanted to push things to the limit,” she said, crying. “He’s just like Superman.”
A public memorial service for Plitt will be held Saturday in Los Angeles. Another service will be held the following week in his hometown, Baltimore.
“We are devastated over the loss of our son,” his family posted on his Web site. “Your messages have uplifted us and give us strength. We thank you for that. Greg’s soul is now with our heavenly Father. May his spirit live on through his website and through each of you.”