A 16-year-old Michigan high school student who was struck and killed by a train walked home from school along the railroad tracks, according to a friend.
Cole Bogue told the Lansing State Journal for a story Saturday that he recognized Matt Wagner's red jacket when he saw a body beneath a stopped freight train in Charlotte, a town southwest of Lansing.
"I hoped it wasn't him," Bogue said. "But I know he walks those tracks every day."
Bogue told WILX-TV that the tracks were Wagner's normal route home.
"Usually, there would be trains coming by and he would get out of the way," Bogue said.
Wagner, a 10th grader at Charlotte High School in Eaton County, was hit shortly after 3 p.m. Friday by a Canadian National Railway train as he walked home from school.
The train was stopped for several hours Friday as authorities investigated.
"These things happen and it was an accident," said Charlotte Police Chief Bill Callahan. "What I want to do now is express our grief to the family. It's one of those unfortunate things that there's really no way to prevent it. In a town like this, the trains go by all the time."
Wagner was about a block from home when he was hit.
Bogue, 16, lives nearby and said he rushed over after hearing the screech of the train's brakes.
"I don't know what to feel. I can't believe it," he said of his friend's death.
Jana Pretzel, another neighbor, said she realized something tragic had occurred when she heard the screeching of the train's brakes. Pretzel told the Lansing State Journal that she spoke with her stepson after learning that Wagner had been killed.
"I told him, `You know you don't ever, ever walk or play on the tracks, right?"' Pretzel said. "It's so awful."
Grief counselors were at Charlotte High School on Saturday to comfort or speak to any students who might need them. The counselors will return to the school Monday, said Nancy Hipskind, the school district's superintendent.
"When you lose a 16-year-old, it is a terrible tragedy," she said.
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