A Chesterton Middle School student was struck by a train and died Tuesday evening, May 9, in what Chesterton Police Chief Tim Richardson called “a tragic accident.” Porter County Coroner Cyndi Dykes has released the name of the boy who perished Tuesday evening, May 9, at the Norfolk Southern’s grade-crossing on North 15th Street. The victim has been identified at Sylis Wilfinger, 14.
“It appears that the decedent was sitting on his bicycle on downtown railroad tracks Tuesday evening waiting for one train to pass and did not hear or see a second train approaching from the opposite direction,” Dykes said. “The incident is still under investigation. The Porter County Coroner’s Office would like to send our thoughts and prayers to the family, friends, and the Duneland community.”
Preliminary investigation by the CPD, assisted by Norfolk Southern detectives, indicates that the boy had gone around the crossing arm at the North 15th Street grade-crossing and, seated on his bike on the south track, was waiting for a westbound train on the north track to clear the crossing, before proceeding north.
At the same time an eastbound train was approaching the boy’s position on the south track. On seeing the boy, the eastbound train’s engineer sounded the horn several times, but according to the engineer the boy never looked to the west in the direction of the oncoming train. “It is unclear if he was wearing headphones or if he believed the horn was coming from the train traveling westbound,” the CPD said.
The accident occurred at 7:09 p.m.
“The Chesterton Police Department worked with the Duneland School Corporation last night and we continue to work with the teachers and administrators today,” Richardson added. “Counselors are on hand and available at the Middle School. Our entire team of School Resource Officers has been briefed and will also be available.”