December 31, 2013

Mainer likely was struck, killed by Connecticut train

By Pat Eaton-robb
The Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. – A day after police said a woman was likely fatally struck by a train in Westport, Metro-North officials said Tuesday that a train crew reported striking something on the tracks but the railroad never notified authorities because there was no evidence it was a person.

Police are investigating after 46-year-old Annette White, a Maine resident who had been living in Connecticut since July, was found dead Friday in the Saugatuck River near the tracks. Police said White’s injuries were consistent with being struck by a train.

She was last seen at about 4 p.m. Thursday. The train was en route from New Haven to Stamford at about 6:40 that night when it hit something on the bridge over the river, said Metro-North spokesman Salvatore Arena.

He said the crew made an emergency stop, notified Metro-North’s rail traffic control, and spent 20 to 30 minutes searching the area.

“There was a small amount of damage to the front of the lead car, but no evidence that they had struck a person,” Arena said Tuesday. “They didn’t see blood; they didn’t see anything like that.”

Arena said the crew continued its journey from New Haven to Stamford where the train was inspected by Metro-North workers, who, again, found no evidence that a person had been struck.

“Nothing further is done about it,” he said. “Nothing is said, nothing is reported because they saw it as a likely debris strike and whatever repair they were going to make, they were going to make.”

The cause of White’s injuries was a mystery until police were alerted Monday morning to the emergency train stop by a passenger who had been aboard the train.

A search of the pier below the railroad bridge turned up a phone and an earring belonging to White, police said. Westport and Metropolitan Transportation Authority police are both investigating the circumstances that put her on or near the tracks.

Metro-North, which operates its New Haven Line under a contract with the Connecticut Department of Transportation, has been the target of criticism in the state legislation following a recent spate of problems.

This month, a Metro-North train derailed in New York, killing four. In May, a derailment in Bridgeport injured 76 people and a track foreman was struck and killed in a separate incident.

Police have said they are investigating White’s death as an accident.

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