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Allegheny

Carlow University student dies 'train hopping' on Pittsburgh's South Side

Joe Napsha
| Sunday, Sept. 3, 2017, 8:27 a.m.
Pittsburgh police said Lindsey Marie Michaels, 21, a junior at Carlow University from Beechview, died early Sunday, Sept. 3, 2017, in a train accident on the South Side.
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Pittsburgh police said Lindsey Marie Michaels, 21, a junior at Carlow University from Beechview, died early Sunday, Sept. 3, 2017, in a train accident on the South Side.

A Carlow University student died early Sunday on Pittsburgh's South Side after being dragged beneath a Norfolk Southern Corp. train while “train hopping,” city police said.

The Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office identified the victim as Lindsey Marie Michaels, 21, of Pittsburgh. Michaels fell and was hit by the train at about 2:30 a.m., in the area of South 8th and East Carson streets, said Sonya Toler, a police spokeswoman. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police said Michaels was train hopping with a male companion who injured his ankle. He was not identified.

Michaels was a junior at the Pittsburgh college, spokesman Drew Wilson said.

“We mourn her loss,” Wilson said in a statement. “Information about a memorial service on campus will be forthcoming. Our thoughts and prayers are with her loved ones.”

Michaels was enrolled in Carlow's College of Learning and Innovation perfusion technology program, which is a medical specialty that assists during open heart surgery, Wilson said.

She was from the Beechview area of Pittsburgh, he said.

Norfolk Southern spokesman Jon Glass said that one of its trains, transporting 130 coal-laden cars, was moving through the South Side around the time local authorities said they received an emergency call about a person being struck by a train.

The train was traveling at about 3 to 4 mph through that area and then began to pick up speed in the area around 10th Street, Glass said. The crew did not see anyone trying to jump on the train and was not aware that anyone might have been hit, he said. Police believe Michaels was injured while jumping off the train, Glass said.

Norfolk Southern stopped the train at about 2:55 a.m. in Etna after being alerted by Pittsburgh authorities. The train was traveling to South Fork, Cambria County, on Norfolk Southern's busy Mon Line, Glass said.

Norfolk Southern could not determine conclusively that the coal train was involved. No other Norfolk Southern trains passed through that area at the time the incident was reported, Glass said.

Pittsburgh police, fire and emergency medical services were dispatched to the Norfolk Southern train tracks. Norfolk Southern employees, including company police, assisted local authorities in investigating the incident, Glass said.

In 2016, 26 people in Pennsylvania died and 19 others were injured when struck by trains while trespassing on tracks or railroad property, according to Federal Railroad Administration data. Pennsylvania ranked fifth in the nation last year for such trespassing incidents.

“Walking on railroad tracks other than at designated crossings is both illegal and dangerous,” Glass stated in an email.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.

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