Two people hit by a train and killed on Tuesday may have thought they were not in the path of the locomotive, police said.
Authorities on Wednesday identified the two as Darrell David Phelps, 27, and his wife, Chelsie D. Phelps, 25.
Chelsie Phelps died instantly when the two were hit by a Norfolk Southern train just after 7 p.m. Tuesday on a section of track that runs through Somerset parallel to nearby U.S. 27, near the Columbia Street crossing, said Pulaski County Coroner Clyde Strunk.
Paramedics rushed David Phelps to Lake Cumerland Regional Hospital, which is within sight of where the two were hit, but he was pronounced dead there, Strunk said.
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Members of the train crew said the couple was walking north on the tracks before they were hit, said Capt. Shannon Smith, spokesman for the Somerset Police Department.
There are two sets of tracks at the spot. David Phelps was walking in one set and his wife was in the other, witnesses said.
As the train approached from behind them, the crew sounded the horn and Chelsie Phelps moved over to the track where her husband was, Smith said.
It’s possible the two thought the train was on the other track, but it was on the same side where the two were walking, Smith said.
They were on the wooden cross ties just outside the metal rail when the train hit them.
It’s not uncommon for people to use the tracks as a shortcut. However, they shouldn’t because of the danger and because the railroad is private property, Smith said.
In fact, police plan to cite a man for trespassing that they saw on the tracks when they went to investigate the accident, Smith said.
Smith said there have now been five deaths in recent years near where the accident happened Tuesday.
One was a suicide, but “all the others preventable merely by staying off the tracks,” Smith said.
Strunk said he has heard no indication the couple killed Tuesday purposefully walked in the path of the train.
“I think it was just a tragic accident,” Strunk said.
Strunk said results were not yet available on toxicology tests on the Phelpses, so it was not known Wednesday if they were impaired by drugs or alcohol.
Strunk said the train was not loaded and was traveling an estimated 45 miles per hour.