Police officers assisted subdued students making their way to school Friday morning at tracks where a young teenager was struck and killed by a light rail train in Rancho Cordova.
The Sacramento County Coroner’s office said the teen killed when hit by the train was 15-year-old Mariah Burgess. Friends interviewed Friday at the tracks that separate the White Rock neighborhood and Folsom Boulevard said she was a freshman at Rancho Cordova High School.
The collision occurred about 2:50 p.m. at Coloma Road and Folsom Boulevard. Alane Masui, spokeswoman for Regional Transit, said witnesses reported that Burgess walked into the path of the eastbound train.
Masui said witness accounts and surveillance video indicated that warning lights were activated and the train operator sounded the horn. She said witnesses reported that the girl appeared to be using headphones and may have been distracted.
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The teen was walking across tracks that run parallel to Folsom Boulevard at Coloma Road. A wall with an arched gateway allows pedestrians to walk between the White Rock residential neighborhood and businesses along Folsom Boulevard and the nearby high school and Mills Jr. High.
But first, pedestrians must cross freight tracks and two sets of light rail tracks leading from Folsom to Sacramento. Bells clang, lights flash and the sidewalk is clearly marked to alert those crossing the tracks to beware of oncoming trains.
Sacramento police officers greeted students Friday morning as they quietly made their way to school at the crossing. One boy leaned down to place a candle at the impromptu shrine erected to memorialize the death of Burgess while others spoke admiringly of the teen.
“She was just a nice person,” said 11-year-old Tatianna Franklin. “She was always encouraging, easy to talk to.”
“She had a bright future,” said 13-year-old Julianna Claypool. “She wanted to go far.”
The girls said that Burgess was sports oriented and tried out for different school teams.
Deneisha Huey walked her daughter, Jakailah Columbus, a Cordova freshman who knew Burgess, across the tracks on Friday because she was uncomfortable after the death of the teen.
“I tell my daughter to pay attention,” she said. “Watch for the red lights. Stay alert. Pay attention to your surroundings.”
One woman who lives nearby, Linda Elizondo, said that it would be good to have a crossing guard at the site.
Call The Bee’s Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.