Police Chief views video of teen train death
Wednesday, July 9, 6 p.m.
Village Board Room, Maple Park Civic Center
302 Willow Street, Maple Park
For questions, contact Josh Salisbury or Kevin Brown at the
Maple Park Police Department, (815) 827-3286.
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Village and Union Pacific to hold safety seminar
MAPLE PARK—When Maple Park Police Chief Mike Acosta viewed the Union Pacific’s video footage taken the night of May 31 at the Liberty Street train crossing in Maple Park, it confirmed the accounts of witnesses present at the time of Maple Park teenager Parker Wolfsmith’s death.
The 14-year-old Kaneland Harter Middle School student had been engaging in a practice called “breezing” when he was struck and killed by the westbound Union Pacific train.
Acosta viewed the video on June 18 with representatives from the Union Pacific Railroad and the Kane County Coroner’s Office.
Acosta said that according to Union Pacific representatives, the term “breezing” refers to when an individual gets close enough to a fast-moving train to feel the breeze. The video showed that Wolfsmith was initially near a tree in a neighboring yard near the tracks, and as the train approached, he ran up close to it, where Union Pacific representatives say he was struck by the train’s “cowcatcher,” a piece of equipment attached to the front of the train used to deflect objects on the track.
There were two other teens with Wolfsmith that night, but they were out of sight from the train’s camera.
Viewing the video was part of the investigation of the incident. During his investigation, Acosta said he learned that this was not the first time Wolfsmith had engaged in this activity. It had been a topic of conversation on the school bus, Acosta said.
“It’s been a very trying few weeks for the community,” Acosta said.
He explained that Wolfsmith’s death and the way that he died has affected a lot of people in the community—from the boy’s family and friends to the police officers and firefighters who arrived at the scene, as well as other parents, neighbors and the train operators who were working that night.
“It affects the entire community,” Acosta said.
There have been several memorial services, including a candle light service at the scene, as well as one at Conley Funeral Home in Elburn.
Acosta said that getting people to talk about it is the best way to deal with it, and the drop-in center at the Maple Park Community Center has provided one outlet for young people to do that.
In addition, the Maple Police Department, together with the Union Pacific Railroad Police, will hold a seminar on Wednesday, July 9 to discuss railway safety. Geared towards all youth and their parents, the seminar Operation Lifesaver will be presented by Union Pacific Railroad police officer Jim Magner.
“We strongly encourage our teen youth and their parents to attend,” Acosta said.
The biggest message Acosta would like to send young people in the area is to stay away from the trains.
“There is no winning against the train,” he said. “The train will win every time.”