The death of 17-year-old Conway High School student Sean Studler on the train tracks near the Salem Road overpass has been ruled an accident.
According to Faulkner County Coroner Pat Moore, Studler was walking west on the tracks at around 1:40 Sunday afternoon. The train engineer saw the teen on the tracks after passing the Tyler Street and Donaghey Avenue crossing and started sounding the train’s horn and first braking, Moore said, before initiating an emergency stop.
The train did not stop in time and hit Studler just west of the Salem Road overpass, killing him.
Studler did have audio ear buds at the time, but Moore said he couldn’t say to a certainty that they played a role in the accident. Moore said that Studler lived in a nearby home that is very close to the tracks.
An emergency stop on a modern train is a last-ditch effort to avoid an accident, and involves a system that sprays sand in front of the train’s wheels to increase traction. It is used only in emergencies because the braking force and sand can damage the train’s wheels and the tracks.
Union Pacific spokesperson Elizabeth Hutchison said on Tuesday that UP's investitgation is ongoing and that she couldn't comment on its details. She did say that UP wanted to remind pedestrians that trains are several feet wider than the rails they ride on.
Counselors at the high school campuses set up stations on Monday to make themselves available, and will remain on hand as long as students, teachers and staff need them, assistant superintendent Carroll Bishop said.