Advocates urge people to stay off rails after Va. teen killed

Hundreds of friends and family members are expected at the funeral for 13-year-old Reyhan Safoglu. The Fairfax County 8th grader was hit and killed by a train while walking on a railroad bridge Wednesday over Bull Run.

MANASSAS, VA (WUSA9) - Hundreds of friends and family members are expected to attend the funeral for Reyhan Safoglu on Saturday.

She’s the Fairfax County eight-grader who was hit and killed by a train while walking on a railroad bridge over Bull Run on Wednesday. 

The family is asking people not to wear black. They want everyone to wear something colorful -- to celebrate her life.

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Reyhan’s family is hoping to create something positive out of this tragedy. One positive thing would be to convince other people to stay away from railroad tracks.

Reyhan’s voice has been silenced, but Michael Lorentz, 13, the cousin and best friend who was with her when she was killed, hopes one message goes out loud and clear.

"Just never go on the tracks," he said. "Even if it’s a joke. Even if you have a way out, just don’t go on it."

Despite the dangers, every year, thousands of people ignore the risks. And every year hundreds of people are killed.

Mark Kalina survived, but lost both his legs. As a college student in Ohio, he took a short cut over some railroad tracks five years ago. Kalina has now started a foundation to help people who suffer the same kind of trauma. He’s hoping other people will learn from his mistake.

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"Most people who are hit be a train never live to tell about it," he said in a safety message for Norfolk Southern. I tell my story to anyone who will listen. Are you listening now?"

He wishes Reyhan had heard him.

"She was too scared, and she kept running. And the train came really fast and hit her," said her cousin, Michael.

You might think you’d hear the train coming and have time to get out of the way, but experts say that’s not true. Most of the noise is at the train and behind it. And trains can move so fast, you might not have any warning at all.

The non-profit Operation Lifesaver says it can take a mile or more for a train to stop, which means that by the time the operator sees a pedestrian, it’s likely too late.

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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