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A Face for Tragedies at Rail Crossings

June 27, 2004

Re "Injuries, Deaths by Trains Up in State," June 21: We would like to put a human face on the tragedy that is increasing in our state. An Amtrak train killed our 21-year-old grandson on June 2 in Encinitas/Cardiff by the Sea, across from a state campground and surfing beach. There is not one warning or danger sign posted in the vicinity.

Many people continue to cross the tracks where our grandson was killed, in order to reach shops and pay phones (he did not have a cellphone).

Possibly the most heartbreaking and difficult thing to stomach was Amtrak immediately calling our grandson's death a suicide, before any investigation. He had no history of depression, drug or alcohol abuse and had planned on graduating from Westmont College in December. He had completed a semester of study in New Zealand, where he kept a journal indicating he was looking positively to the future; had met a lovely young woman who wanted to share the future with him; was an avid surfer; loved music and guitar; and generally enjoyed life, friends and his family. There were many wonderful tributes to his Christian faith, confirmed at his memorial service.

Each life is precious. There has to be a solution. The public must be protected. Amtrak and other government agencies must be compelled to take prompt, preventive and decisive action.

William N. Fawell

June Fawell

Rancho Palos Verdes

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