Bloomfield Hills man struck, killed by train in Royal Oak

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published February 25, 2019

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ROYAL OAK — At approximately 1:17 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, Royal Oak police received 911 calls about a pedestrian who had been struck by an Amtrak train near Fifth and Center streets in downtown Royal Oak.

Police said the 21-year-old Bloomfield Hills man was with two other men who disregarded the pedestrian railroad barricade as the train was approaching the area. While the other two ran across the tracks, the victim lost his footing and was struck, according to police.

Paramedics rushed the man to Beaumont Hospital, where he died from his injuries later that morning. The other subjects were not injured.

Lt. Keith Spencer, of the Royal Oak Police Department’s Criminal Investigation Unit, said investigators are working to determine if alcohol played a role in the incident.

The Royal Oak Police Department, the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office Accident Investigation Team and CN Railroad police are investigating the incident.

Barb Bullock, a resident of Royal Oak Manor, said she was watching the Amtrak 354, a passenger train, from her 10th-story apartment when she heard the brakes screeching and she knew something was wrong. She said the train was stopped on the tracks until approximately 4:30 a.m.

“I know the gates were down, the bells were ringing and the train was blowing its horn,” she said. “This is the second time I know of that this particular train has been involved (in a fatal pedestrian death).”

Bullock said she regularly volunteers at the train station and that the fatal accidents impact herself and the train crews.

The last such incident took place at approximately 12:40 a.m. Oct. 21. A 24-year-old Flat Rock man was struck while attempting to cross the tracks between Fifth and Sixth streets.

Police said the man in that incident had been walking north along the tracks with a small group of friends. As the train approached, the group started running to cross from the east to the west side of the tracks. The others made it across, but the Flat Rock man, who was approximately 20 feet behind, was struck. Police said alcohol was a factor in the incident.

“I’ve been here in Royal Oak for 52 years now and this is the most (train-related deaths) I’ve ever seen,” Bullock said. “Too many liquor licenses equals danger. People come in from out of the area and don’t know the area, don’t know trains are coming.”

Police ask that anyone with additional information in the Feb. 23 incident contact Spencer at (248) 246-3456.

Call Staff Writer Sarah Wojcik at (586) 218-5006.