Police officers assisted students making their way to school Friday at the tracks where a teenager was struck and killed by a light-rail train in Rancho Cordova.
The Sacramento County Coroner’s Office identified the teen killed Thursday as Mariah Burgess, 15. Friends interviewed Friday at the tracks that separate the White Rock neighborhood and Folsom Boulevard said she was a freshman at Cordova High School. Several friends took to Twitter on Thursday night and Friday to mourn the loss of the girl some described as an angel.
Mariah was struck at about 2:50 p.m. Thursday while walking across tracks that run parallel to Folsom Boulevard at Coloma Road. 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 had sounded the horn. She said witnesses reported that the girl appeared to be using headphones and may have been distracted.
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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 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 enjoyed sports and tried out for different school teams.
Deneisha Huey walked her daughter, Jakailah Columbus, a Cordova freshman who knew Burgess, across the tracks 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.”
Meanwhile, at Cordova High, students created and signed posters to give to Burgess’ family. Cordova Principal Dan Anklam said that chaplains, psychologists and grief counselors were on hand to speak with students.
“They are in the library getting counseled,” said Anklam. “We also have a couple of smaller rooms where they can talk privately.”
He said student government representatives created the posters for students to sign with messages to the family. Mariah Burgess had two sisters who also attend Cordova, including her twin, said Anklam.
“The teachers and all the kids say that her smile lit up a room,” said Anklam. “She was a delightful, sweet kid.”
Linda Elizondo, who lives nearby, said that it would be good to have a crossing guard at the site.
Call The Bee’s Bill Lindelof, (916) 321-1079.