Man struck, killed by train in Esplen

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A man was struck and killed Thursday night by a CSX train in Esplen, Pittsburgh police said.

The Allegheny County medical examiner's office identified him as John Relja, 48, of Elizabeth Township.

Police responded at 9:37 p.m. to the intersection of West Carson and Sanford streets, county emergency dispatch said.

Mr. Relja was riding an all-terrain bike on the train tracks when he was hit by the westbound train, city public safety spokeswoman Sonya Toler said.

"He either didn't hear or heed the warning from the train," she said.

His body and bike were thrown from the ledge where the tracks are and landed about 30 feet below, she said. Neither had been extracted by 11:25 p.m., but crews were working to do so.

CSX issued a statement this morning expressing sympathy to Mr. Relja's family and friends. It said the train with two locomotives and 31 cars was traveling from Portsmouth, Va., to North Baltimore, Ohio. "CSX is cooperating with local authorities in their investigation ... CSX appreciates the rapid and professional response of the emergency responders to last night’s tragic incident," the statement said.

A CSX investigator, city homicide and fire, and the Allegheny County medical examiner are on-scene. CSX did not respond to calls for comment Thursday night.

"People need to understand a train is not able to stop quickly. It's best to stay clear of the tracks," she said.

Lexi Belculfine: or 412-263-1878. Twitter: @LexiBelc. First Published April 17, 2014 11:41 PM


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