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Man hit by train already dead

Two Lexington men have been charged with manslaughter in the death of a man who was hit by a train in Lexington on Thursday, police said.

Steven D. Dykes, 45, and Charles M. Atkins, 49, were charged with first-degree manslaughter and tampering with evidence.

The victim wasn't carrying identification when he was struck by an R.J. Corman Railroad Co. train about 11:15 a.m. at railroad tracks along Old Paris Road, off Paris Pike near Interstate 75, Lexington fire Maj. Ed Davis said.

Lexington Police Lt. James Curless said that conversations with people around the area led police to the two men, who are thought to be homeless. Curless also said there are several camps of homeless along the railroad track.

A police citation filed for Atkins said that he and Dykes assaulted the victim, causing his death, and then moved the victim's body to the tracks, where it was run over. An arraignment was scheduled for Friday.

Atkins and Dykes both have a long histories of charges, most recently including trespassing, alcohol intoxication and begging, according to the Fayette County Detention Center.

The victim's identity and cause of death would be released by the Fayette County coroner's office, police said.

The train was traveling about 35 to 40 mph when the operator saw what he initially thought was a deer or some other animal lying on the tracks, Davis said. The engineer sounded the air horn several times, but the man never moved.

It was too early to say whether drugs or alcohol might have been factors in the man's death.

The engineer was so shaken up that he didn't want to leave the train after the accident and walk to where the man was struck, Davis said.

Workers at nearby Cotton's Transmission Service said homeless people often set up camps in the area near the railroad tracks.

Davis said the man who died probably was homeless. He said there was not a camp in the area when police and EMS arrived, but people probably would have dispersed by the time police arrived.

The train had just left a pickup station on Newtown Pike, Lexington police spokeswoman Ann Gutierrez said.

Noel Rush, R.J. Corman's vice president of strategic planning and development, said most of the cars on the train were empty.

Investigators are looking into whether procedures, including the use of horns and whistles, were properly followed, Rush said.

R.J. Corman added no-trespassing signs at several sites in Lexington and other cities after a homeless man was killed near the J.M. Smucker plant on Winchester Road in August 2007, Rush said.

“It is private property,” Rush said of the tracks. “And it is dangerous private property.”