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Train kills girl, 12

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Train kills girl, 12

By RICHARD KHAVKINE

 

A 12-year-old township girl was struck and killed by a New Jersey Transit train as she and some friends played on the tracks at the Avenel train station Tuesday afternoon, law enforcement said.

 

Ashlyn Ferriero, a seventh-grader at Avenel Middle School whose last day of school was to be Thursday, was hit by a Bay Head-bound train bypassing Avenel just before 3 p.m.

 

A NJ Transit spokesman said Ashlyn and five or six girls were playing on the southbound tracks when the train approached. The train's engineer sounded the horn and activated the emergency brakes, the spokesman, Joe Dee, said.

 

But while her friends were able to hang on to the fence separating the north- and southbound tracks, Ashlyn was swept into the train's path. Dee could not say how fast the train was traveling.

 

Nearby residents Jack and Lydia Gonter said teenagers and younger kids have been playing on the tracks for years, but transit officials do little to discourage them.

 

"There's always kids playing on the tracks," said Jack Gonter, a retired New Jersey Transit manager. "You'd think they'd chase them off but they don't."

 

The couple have lived on Livingston Avenue near the Avenel station for 20 years. The Gonters said they could not recall any other fatalities at or near the station.

 

Dee could not comment on the Gonters' allegations.

 

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family," he said. "This is a tragedy."

 

Dozens of friends, other students and adults gathered near the North Jersey Coast Line station, many crying and comforting each other, late into the muggy afternoon.

 

Friends and classmates said Ashlyn was among the prettiest and most popular girls in her class.

 

"She had fun whatever she did," Diana Russo, 13, said. "She made the most of everything."

 

They described Ashlyn as a good student who still took opportunities to joke good-naturedly with other students and some teachers.

 

"Everybody liked her," Kaitlyn Vladick, 12, said. "The teachers liked her. She had a lot of friends."

 

Others said it was unlike Ashlyn, who was to turn 13 in less than three weeks, to take chances such as the one she took on Tuesday afternoon, when the middle school students had a half-day of classes.

 

Grief counselors were on hand at nearby Avenel Street School 4 & 5. Television, radio and print reporters, photographers and videographers converged on the quiet tree-lined residential neighborhood east of the station.

 

Police were interviewing Ashlyn's friends into the evening to determine what happened on the tracks, just before and after the accident.

 

An 8-foot high chain-link fence surrounds most of the station's perimeter, including beneath the train's elevated platform. Signs reading "Danger Do Not Cross Tracks" are posted on the fence separating the north- and southbound tracks.

 

The station is bordered by residences, a lumber yard and an inactive General Dynamics plant.

 

For two hours after the incident, NJ Transit routed all North Jersey Coast Line service onto an adjacent track, leading to delays of 15 to 20 minutes, NJ Transit spokesman Dan Stessel said. By 5 p.m., both tracks were back in service, and most trains were running on or close to schedule, Stessel said. He said the 250 passengers on the 2:13 train from Hoboken were transferred to another train.

 

At dusk Tuesday, about 40 friends and classmates, nearly all holding lit candles, walked the half-mile from Ashlyn's Manor Place home to the train station.

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This is a terrible tragedy and was totally avoidable. When will these kids learn that when they play on railroad tracks they're playing a deadly game.

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Its unfortunate for the family. To know that their girl could be with them, and isnt, because of a totally unnecessary death. My prayers are with that family. :)

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Lets hope the kids she was playing with learned a scary and valuable lesson, playing on railroad tracks is only supposed to be done by us responsible adults.

 

No, but seriously, my heart goes out to the family and friends.

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