11/20/11 — Pedestrian killed by train

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Pedestrian killed by train

By Kelly Corbett
Published in News on November 20, 2011 1:50 AM

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Wayne County EMS supervisor Larry Hinson, left, talks to Mount Olive police Officer Kasey Faulk and Town Inspector Danny Keele on South Center Street near the Kelly Street intersection on Friday. A man was struck and killed about 1:30 p.m. by a train as it headed south through town.

MOUNT OLIVE -- A 27-year-old man was killed Friday afternoon when he stepped into the path of a CSX train headed south on Center Street.

Police would not confirm the identify of the victim. But sources said the man was Marquis Ezzell, 27, of Mount Olive.

The accident happened about 1:30 p.m. Friday along the 600 block of South Center Street, Police Chief Brian Rhodes said.

The train had three engines but was using only two to pull 67 cars, mostly carrying corn.

Rhodes said the train's engineer tried to warn the victim by sounding his horn but that the man did not get off the track.

"The estimated speed of the train was 40, which is the (train) speed limit in town," he said. "They were blowing their whistle and bells as they were going through. I heard them."

The engineer and the conductor were the only ones on the train at the time of the accident, Rhodes said.

He said a witness said the victim had been walking along the train tracks when the train approached from behind and struck him.

Rhodes said ear buds were found on the scene, but police are unsure whether or not they belonged to the victim. As investigators went over the scene, residents could be seen watching from the front porches and yards.

"I've worked here 25 years," Rhodes said. "It is the first pedestrian I remember hit. We've had vehicles hit before, but no pedestrians."

Rhodes said the track is used primarily for hauling corn.

"They come through routinely -- at least two or three a day, I'd say," Assistant Chief Tommy Brown said.

The investigation ended at about 5:40 p.m., at which time the train, which had halted, was also moved.

Rhodes said police try to prevent such accidents from happening and that the railroad has been cooperative in trying to maintain its route safely.

Rhodes said that the railroad cooperates with the town whenever there are crowds of people expected, such as during the North Carolina Pickle Festival. CSX does not stop the trains from operating, but the trains go significantly slower when they come through town, Brown said.

"They're really good to work with when incidents like this happen," Rhodes said. "They have rules and regulations to go by before they move."

He said that it would be at least Monday before police could make positive identification of the victim, pending a report from the state medical examiner's office.

Brown and Rhodes said they advise people, whether they are walking or driving, to pay attention and make sure they look out for trains when crossing the street.

"It just can't stop like a car," Rhodes said. "It's an unfortunate event and we hate to see it happen," Rhodes said.