Teen killed while taking senior photos on Oregon train tracks

TROUTDALE, Ore. (KOIN) – Each year, hundreds of people are injured or killed while trespassing on railroad property in the United States.

Now, a tragic story out of Troutdale, where a train hit and killed a 17-year-old while he was taking senior photos near the train tracks.

The incident happened by the historic Columbia River Highway around 6:00 p.m. on Saturday.

Union Pacific is responding, calling for attention to safety. In a statement, the company said, “Our thoughts are with the teen’s family and friends. We plead with parents, students and photographers to not take photos on or near the tracks.”

Steve Kreins with the Rail Safety Education Organization Oregon Operation Lifesaver urges professional photographers to refrain from taking photos of high school seniors, wedding parties, and others on train tracks, saying many people don’t realize it’s against the law.

“They don’t know it’s actually a misdemeanor,” Kreins explained. “They don’t know that it’s actually a crime to trespass on the tracks and so they just go out on the tracks and they take these photos and an incident like this happens.”

Trains can’t stop quickly and the average train overhangs the track by at least three feet. Plus, looking through a lens creates an optical illusion making it hard to determine a train’s distance and its speed.

People mimic photographers when they see photos online and on social media.

“This is a tragedy for the family, it’s a tragedy for the community, it’s a tragedy for the train crew,” Kreins said. “I think it’s important to get out to the public that, for everybody to remember, that the only thing that belongs on those tracks are trains.”

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