Following news article was posted on the web site for WBZTV, Boston, on 5/29/08.
Sunbathing Girls Fell Asleep Before Train Crash
Girls Lose Limbs In Horrific Train Crash
LEBANON, Maine (AP) ― Two teenage girls sunbathing on a railroad trestle lost limbs when a train came upon them unexpectedly in this New Hampshire border town, police said Wednesday.
The girls were lying on beach towels on the trestle over Three Mill Pond when the train rounded a corner and began braking and blasting its horn shortly before 11 a.m., said Lt. Gary Fecteau of the York County Sheriff's Department.
The conductor and engineer say they never saw the girls move, but their injuries suggest they tried to scramble away at the last moment, Fecteau said.
Destiny Phaneuf, 13, of Lebanon, lost her leg just below the knee; Rachel Brown 14, also of Lebanon, lost a foot, Fecteau said. Both were airlifted to Maine Medical Center in Portland.
Crews searched the water for their lost limbs, Lebanon Fire Assistant Rescue Chief Jason Coty said.
The girls were cutting class and enjoying the sunny weather when the freight train came upon them, Fecteau said. There's no indication the girls were impaired by alcohol or drugs, or that their hearing was impaired by headphones, he said.
Phaneuf was unconscious when authorities arrived; Brown told police that the pair had fallen asleep while sunbathing, he said.
Christie West, who lives across from the tracks in Milton, N.H., said the train comes by the same time every day. This time, she said it screeched to a halt after passing her back door.
"That's about where I saw a little girl laying, and her knees were bent, so I could see small legs bent on the railroad tracks, and she was moving, so I knew that she was alive," West told WMUR-TV.
The train crew called to report the accident when it happened. Police and rescue workers from Milton were first on the scene. They turned the investigation over to York County authorities after determining that the incident had happened in Maine.
Neighbors said the area is off-limits, but it is still a popular spot where people hang out and swim.
Officials said last year, a boy riding his bike was hit on the trestle. Milton police said they are called to the area at least once a day over the summer.
A nonprofit rail safety organization said the tragedy underscores the inherent danger of trespassing on private railroad property.
"Though it's not known how fast the train which struck the individuals was traveling, it's a fact that trains can't stop quickly. Even a slow-moving train can weigh millions of pounds and may take hundreds of yards to come to an emergency stop," said Fred Hirsch, state coordinator of Maine Operation Lifesaver.