KINGSBURY -- A man and a boy who were fishing from a train trestle were hit and killed by a train Sunday, a collision that was not seen by either the train’s staff or passengers, police said.
Paul D. Wallach, 34, of Kingsbury, and Jordan Catellier, 6, of Kingsbury, were killed by the passing Amtrak train, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office said Monday afternoon.
Police said they were not related but were acquaintances. The child attended Hudson Falls schools.
They were struck by a southbound Amtrak passenger train on the Ethan Allen line that was on its way from Rutland, Vt., to New York City, police reported.
The conductor apparently did not see them or know he hit them, but Washington County Sheriff Jeff Murphy said investigators have viewed video footage from the train that shows the accident occurring.
He said Wallach and the boy were sitting on the trestle, and stood up as the train passed by. The accident happened sometime before 7 p.m.
“It appears as though they (the victims) thought there was enough room for them as it went by,” the sheriff said.
Amy Catellier, Jordan’s mother, said a group of family members and friends were at a home nearby and the boy had gotten a fishing pole earlier that day, so the two walked down to the nearby creek to try it out. When they had not returned as expected, some of the people at the home went looking for them and found them near the trestle.
“He just got that pole. It was his first time fishing with it,” she said. “This is just terrible.”
Murphy said members of the group typically fished at a spot on the nearby Champlain Canal.
Friends and relatives of Wallach who were gathered at a home in the village of Fort Edward did not want to discuss the situation with a reporter Monday morning.
“There’s nothing to say,” one man said solemnly.
Police were sent to the area shortly after 7:30 p.m. Sunday when a person who knew the two had gone fishing along the tracks went to look for them and spotted one or both of them.
The trestle is about a quarter- to half-mile south of the Route 196 railroad overpass, and crosses Bond Creek before the creek empties into the Champlain Canal.
Police and emergency responders were sent to the scene, but both victims were pronounced dead at the scene by Washington County Coroner Ruth Scribner.
Routine toxicology tests were to be performed on Wallach. Murphy said there was no indication he had been drinking.
But he had been paroled from state prison on March 27 after serving more than 8 years of a 5- to 10-year prison sentence for a 2005 criminal sale of a controlled substance conviction related to a heroin sale. He was sent back to prison last fall, after two felony arrests while on parole in 2012 and 2013.
Murphy said sheriff’s officers worked with Amtrak to identify the train and inspect it Monday.
The train staff members were apparently unaware that the train had hit anyone, and the train did not stop at the scene, Murphy said.
Part of the investigation focused on how they apparently did not notice them, the sheriff said. It was daylight when the accident happened.
Amtrak spokesman Craig Schulz said there was no indication of a strike that the train crew had noted, and the circumstances were under investigation. Amtrak was working with police, he said.
Trains close distances quickly, and often can’t be heard by those ahead of them, he said.
“This is why we do so much outreach and try to raise awareness of the dangers of being on or near the track,” Schulz said. “It’s a tragedy. These are terrible for everybody involved.”
Sheriff’s officers initially had trouble figuring out which train was responsible because there was northbound and southbound traffic on the line Sunday afternoon and evening.
There are no track crossings other than the Route 196 overpass in the immediate vicinity. Rabideau Lane dead-ends at the tracks in the area, and a resident of the road said there are trails that are frequented by bike riders in that area, near the tracks.
“There are quite a few people who do go back there,” she said, declining to give her name.
It is illegal to go on the tracks, rail beds or trestles. Murphy said he has not known the trestle to be a popular fishing spot.
Police said approaching trains are surprisingly quiet, particularly on straightaways where noise is behind the train. The speed limit in that area is 60 mph for passenger trains.
Murphy said sheriff’s investigators were meeting with Canadian Pacific Railway Police later Monday to go over the investigation, and more details will be released later in the day.
Ed Greenberg, a spokesman for CP Railway, referred comment to the Sheriff’s Office.
“We are working with Washington County officials and Amtrak,” he said.
Amtrak passenger trains and freight trains operate on the line, which runs along the Champlain Canal for much of its route through Washington County.