CLIFTON, VA (WUSA9) - The best adventure of their lives was brought to a sudden, horrifying end. The kids were out on a hike on a railroad trestle over Bull Run on Wednesday when a Virginia Railway Express train came barreling down the tracks.
Reyhan Safoglu, 13, was too terrified to jump to the other track -- and safety.
The family is hoping other young people learn from the tragedy, but what a painful, devastating lesson.
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There is no fence or warning sign on the tracks. And the trains come through way too fast to outrun.
The Safoglu's Burke home is filled with grief -- and love. More than a dozen of Reyhan's friends and family have crowded in while her mother weeps. "I don't want her to be scared, I don't want her to be lonely," she cried in the arms of a friend.
Emel Safoglu is convinced now that her adventure-loving daughter is in heaven.
"I just got the worst call in the world from my son, just screaming. 'Mom, mom! Reyhan is dead. Reyhan is dead,'" she remembers.
Michael Lorentz, 13, wanted to talk about the worst day of his young life.
"So we were having the best hike. Everybody was having fun," he said. "While we're walking back, all we hear is the train, the horn coming at us."
They'd walked across the railroad bridge and then turned around to come back.
"I'm like 'Reyhan run!' And we start running, and I'm like, 'Jump!' And I jumped to the other side of the track, but she kept running. And the train came really fast and like hit her. She flew like 20 feet, it was bad."
The bridge is dozens of feet high. But the jump to the track headed the other way is just a few feet.
"I think God wanted her," Michael said.
Reyhan packed a lifetime into her 13 years. She was a member of the World Children's Choir, cheerleading, and lots of other sports. But in the last month, her mother says she'd been talking about death.
"She said 'Mom, why do they wear black to a funeral? I don't want people wearing black to my funeral I don't want them crying at my funeral. Let them come dressed up. I want my funeral to be like a party.'"
"Just never go on the tracks ever," said Michael. "Even if it's a joke. Even if you have a way out. Just don't go on it."
The deadly toll for this kind of thing is almost unbelievable. Last year, 491 people were killed walking on railroad tracks nationwide, according to the Federal Railroad Administration. Ten people were killed here in Virginia alone. Those numbers have held fairly steady for years, despite education, enforcement and some re-engineering campaigns.
Some people have pushed railroads to put up fences. But the railroads have often suggested that's too expensive and not necessarily effective.
Reyhan's mom has raised her two kids alone. She is now trying to figure out how to pay for her funeral. A relative has set up a Go Fund Me page, if you want to help.
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