Hoover teens expected to make recovery after being hit by train in Helena

Published 10:06 am Wednesday, June 28, 2023

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By BARTON PERKINS | Staff Writer

HELENA – In the days after two Hoover teenagers were hit by a train while walking over a railroad trestle in Helena on Monday, June 26, they continue to battle a long road to recovery after suffering life-threatening injuries, but both are expected to recover.

Helena Police Chief Brad Flynn did confirm a night after the accident on Tuesday, June 27 that both teens who faced the injuries are expected to make a full recovery, but they face a long road ahead in doing so.

The two teens were accompanied by two additional friends who managed to escape the incident with only minor injuries by jumping off the bridge. 

The teens initially attempted to outrun the train before realizing that they could not escape it. While two group members successfully threw themselves out of the train’s path, their friends were not as fortunate. 

“They said they do this all the time,” Flynn said. “Obviously nothing happened until now. They said they were halfway across the trestle when they first heard the train and they tried to outrun it but they couldn’t.” 

One girl was thrown halfway down the embankment, and one boy was still underneath the train itself when first responders arrived. Both teens were subsequently taken to Children’s of Alabama, one by ambulance and one by airlift. 

Fire Chief Pete Valenti has worked at the Helena Fire Dept. since 1989, and this is the third case he has seen of juveniles being involved in an incident on the railroad tracks. 

“The first time we had something almost a very similar situation where we had two younger boys that were on a trestle and got hit by a train,” he said. “By the time we got there, they were both already gone. I actually knew one of the boys; he was a good friend of my son’s. Somehow or another, we got to get the word out there that train tracks are not a shortcut and not an easy path from one point to another. Trains aren’t as loud as you think they should be, and they’ll be right on top of you before you realize what’s happening.” 

Valenti noted that while we actively teach children about fire safety and drunk driving in schools, we rarely discuss train safety unless it’s in the aftermath of a tragic event like this one. 

“The biggest thing is if you’re on the railroad tracks, you’re trespassing,” he said. “You’re breaking the law for nothing. You’re taking your life into your own hands”

Flynn echoed Valenti’s words in the moments after the scary incident

“This is my 26th year here and this is the fourth train versus, I think, juvenile incident that I’ve worked. Every child that has been struck before did not survive. I ask parents to implore on their children, especially now that it’s summertime, these tracks are not a place to go hiking, they’re not a place to go explore. As these children terribly found out, and by the grace of God, hopefully they will survive, but they learned too late that railroad tracks are extremely dangerous places to be.”

During the rescue, first responders were forced to crawl under the train, climb steep embankments and risk their lives as well. One officer ended up falling 30 feet down an embankment while trying to provide a quick response.  

A GoFundMe has been set up by one of the victim’s sisters to help pay for the various medical expenses brought on by the accident. The fundraiser can be supported at Gofundme.com/f/medical-funds-for-cuddy?fbclid=IwAR05LNLIo-D8fasJheyjdd_lL07-iHLETIk_kIXUMcR06zyzK_H1tpKBP1U