NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — A 16-year-old boy is recovering after he was struck by a train in Newport News on Monday.
The incident happened shortly before 3 p.m., on tracks off of Onancock Trail. The teen’s right foot was severed.
“The young man showed incredible strength, he really did,” said Michael Polovina, a neighbor who ran to help.
According to police, the boy had been walking along the tracks, heading north. The CSX locomotive was traveling in the same direction, coming from behind.
“The whistle was blowing for a long, long time,” said Sherry Lewis, who lives nearby.
Seconds later, neighbors heard cries for help.
Polovina said he jumped a fence to help the boy and had him elevate the sliced leg.
“Had him put his head down so he wouldn’t pass out, and then just talked to him to keep him calm.”
Another neighbor, Mike Lewis, said he helped cut an opening into the fence, so the paramedics could carry the teen to the road.
Nightingale airlifted him to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.
A 10 On Your Side crew saw a backpack and belongings, including headphones, tossed along the tracks.
Police don’t believe this was a suicide attempt. They are investigating the possibility that the teen was listening to music and didn’t hear the train’s whistle when he was struck.
“I do want to stress, do not walk down the tracks,” said Newport News Police Ofc. Brandon Maynard. “This is unsafe. Take a different route.”
But neighbors told 10 On Your Side that people walk up and down the tracks constantly. A WAVY crew even spotted a group playing near the scene later Monday afternoon.
“They walk through here all the time, to go to the mall or the store or something,” Sherry said. “All the time, every day, they’re back there.”
Polovina said the boy didn’t indicate why he was on the tracks.
“The only thing that he mentioned to me was he was walking along the tracks and then doesn’t remember what happened.”
The boy told Polovina that he is a basketball player, and was concerned his mother would be angry at him.
“I mentioned to him, ‘For the amount of strength that you’ve shown throughout this, you can do anything in life… You’re 16-years-old, so don’t let this stop you.'”
The crash occurred on private CSX property. According to police, the victim could possibly be charged with trespassing. The investigation is ongoing.
A spokesman for CSX said that the locomotive was carrying two cars, and was serving as an “inspection train” to check the tracks and ensure their safety.
Stay with WAVY.com for updates to this developing story.