Train surfing and missing people

Evidently train surfing is a thing that is being done all over the world, and becoming more popular.  Some say it happened after the James Bond movie “Skyfall” came out where we see James Bond train surf, others say it is a trend, and train officials are stating the dangerous “sport” is on the rise.

 For those that don’t know, train surfing is when you ride atop or the sides of a train.  In other parts of the world it is actually a way for people to hitch a ride, and is called train hopping or freight hopping.  The biggest difference is that those trains usually travel very slow, and once people get on they sit.

Train surfing began popular in Europe in 2002 and there are reported deaths every year from it.  With the rise of train surfers, came the rise in law enforcement arresting people for it.  In Melbourne over 80 people were arrested over four months.  In Russia, an astounding 1000 train surfers were arrested at the Moscow Railway during ten months of 2011.  In Sept. 2015, it seems the “sport” has risen again as the Business Journal stated that train surfing is Russia’s newest trend, and it seems to be true as there are many recent videos from Russian youths on YouTube showing themselves train surfing. 

Although the train authorities in the U.S. don’t document when it happens it is apparently growing in popularity, and are warning those that do it, will be prosecuted.  But there is one statistic they do have, the statistic of 500 deaths last year of people who were killed on railroad property, reports Operation Lifesaver.  The criteria were people either walking along the rail lines, trespassing in the switching yards or jumping on or off moving trains, according to MYAJC News.  They have not separated the numbers, so we do not know if jumping on or off moving trains is becoming more popular.

http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1
Raw video of James Hubert’s rescue after he was found.

We also do not know whether any of the 500 that were later found deceased were missing people.  But we do know James Hubert, the Georgia Tech student rode a CSX train and fell off and laid there for several days until he was found.  He was very lucky, as he did not become one of the statistics.  (Read story here).  But, Hubert’s accident is bringing the subject of train surfing to the forefront.

It is possible there are other young men, possible some that have not been found may have died doing this sport, and are still lying next to the tracks?

Robin Putnam, 28, of Colorado, was last seen on July 8, 2012, leaving an Amtrak train in Salt Lake City, police said.  His body was found next to railroad tracks in August 2015.  There has been no official statement saying he was riding and fell off or walking along the tracks and was hit, but it is a possibility he was using the trains to get around.


Teens in Boston get in trouble for train surfing

Connor Trapatso went missing in Oct. 2014 and was found in Nov. 2014.  Coeymans Police Chief P.J. McKenna said that Connor fell from a railroad bridge near the bridge that connects the Thruway with the Berkshire Spur.   The bridge he is referring to is the Livingston Avenue Bridge and it is a critical Empire Corridor passenger rail line which is leased by Amtrak.  Connor’s death was ruled no foul play, leaving accidental as the cause.  Is it possible he was on the train and fell off?

There is also a John Doe from Michigan that was found by the train tracks in August 2015.  He is still a John Doe and he may have been homeless.  It is possible he may have been killed while trying to catch a ride.

As this is a new “sport” in the US, family’s of missing young men, as they seem to be predominately the demographic that do train surfing, may not realize that was what happened to their loved one who was found near the train tracks.  And because teens do keep secrets they may be doing this and parents have no idea.  You can’t help but wonder if someone else was with James Hubert that day and did not know that he fell, and now is too afraid to come forward and say.  If you live in an area where there is trains and you have a teen, you may want to consider educating him on how unsafe it is to train surf. 

Hopefully, the US authorities can put a stop to train surfing before it becomes a trend like it is in Russia.

About Missing Persons Admin 4515 Articles
Jerrie Dean, who is retired from Federal Law Enforcement, is the Founder of Missing Persons of America.

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