An evening of tubing on the Potomac River ended in death for two young men in Western Maryland yesterday when a commuter train struck the pair as they tried to cross tracks near the river in Sandy Hook in Washington County.
Michael Caputo, 21, and Philip Bricken, 20, both of north Potomac, were declared dead at the scene. None of the train's passengers was hurt.
The men, were struck by a westbound MARC train en route from Washington to Martinsburg, W. Va.
State police said the victims climbed ashore after riding the river and were trying to join two friends on the other side of the tracks shortly before 7 p.m.
1st Sgt. Laura Lu Herman said the men, wearing swimsuits, were holding their inner tubes when they were struck. "The conductor saw the tubes airborne," she said.
Investigators at the scene said a witness saw the men sitting on the tracks minutes before the accident.
Sandy Hook, a town of about 100 people, lies just west of the Frederick County line and east of where the CSX railroad tracks cross the Potomac into Harpers Ferry, W. Va. The area is a popular spot for canoeing and tubing.
Local authorities said accidents involving pedestrians and trains are not uncommon.
The train, which left Union Station in Washington with 50 passengers at 5: 30 p.m. and was due in Harpers Ferry at 7 p.m., did not derail. Passengers boarded another train after the accident and reached their destinations, MARC officials said.
Herman said no indication of negligence on the part of conductors was found.
The bodies of the victims were taken to Washington County Hospital.
Rob Gould, a spokesman for CSX, the Florida-based freight company that owns the tracks, said the men were not at an official crossing. The state owns the commuter trains, and CSX is hired by MARC to operate the trains.
Pub Date: 6/12/99