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Why 3 youths killed by train were walking on tracks remains a mystery

Investigators say the victims were in a warehouse area of Commerce where there was no room for pedestrians and they were unable to get off in time to avoid an Amtrak train.

December 15, 2010|By Shan Li and Esmeralda Bermudez, Los Angeles Times

Investigators Tuesday were trying to determine why three youths were walking on the railroad tracks in Commerce when a passenger train struck and killed them.

The victims were identified late Tuesday as Anthony Sandoval, 15; Gilbert Correa, 17; and Joseph Hernandez, whose age was unknown, said Lt. Larry Dietz of the Los Angeles County coroner's office. All three were from Montebello.

They were walking about 9 p.m. Monday on an area of the tracks where there was no room for pedestrians, and they were unable to get off in time to avoid the Amtrak train, said Sgt. Michael Thomas of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Los Angeles County fire crews and sheriff's homicide detectives pronounced the victims dead at the scene in the 6500 block of 26th Street.

"As far as why, that hasn't been determined," Thomas said Tuesday. "Obviously, there is speculation. Were they goofing off? Were they committing suicide?"

On Tuesday morning, there were few signs of the accident along the commercial area dotted with warehouses and big rigs. Only yellow caution tape blocked off the slope leading up to the tracks, where a dozen railway workers, along with the county coroner, moved about taking photographs and measurements.

A few yards away, Jose Alvarez, the owner of a bread distributing firm, chatted with a co-worker about the accident. He heard of the deaths on the news Monday night, but didn't realize how close the tracks were to his business until Tuesday morning.

"I just don't understand what they would be doing out there on the tracks," Alvarez said. "And why they didn't get out of the way? Those trains are always really loud."

The train carrying about 125 passengers was traveling from San Diego to Union Station in downtown Los Angeles.

shan.li@latimes.com

esmeralda.bermudez@latimes.com

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