DANVILLE– Officials said a 21-year-old man from Virgina was struck and killed by a train traveling to Bloomsburg as part of the Iron Heritage Festival.
The Montour County Corner said the death is being treated as a suicide, following witness reports that the man put his head on the tracks before the train hit him.
A watchman at the tracks said he spotted the man Friday night sleeping in a parking lot nearby and noticed him wandering near the tracks before the deadly collision.
While the train was filled with passengers, crew members said nobody onboard realized the train had hit the victim until a phone call came about what had happened.
The train returned to Danville but stopped short of the make-shift station at the local middle school to avoid crossing back over the scene, and to allow investigators to do their work. Passengers had to evacuate the train near Jacob’s Alley, with the help of portable platforms.
The festival celebrates the history of rail tracks in Danville, where the iron “T-rail” was said to be invented.
People at the festival said it was sad that the victim used the very tracks the festival celebrates to end his life.
“They are shocked. They really are. They are not saying much. They just can’t believe what happened,” said Train Watchman Red Swank. “It sure put a damper on the day. Usually it is happy and everything is going on, but they are sort of down.”
The two remaining train excursions were cancelled and refunds were issued. Parents said they struggled to explain to their children why their plans had changed.
“We came and we didn’t realize there had been an accident, so we were disappointed we didn’t get to go, but we understand. It’s very unfortunate,” said Michelle Richards of Elysburg.