Authorities ID body found near train tracks
KNOBEL, Ark. — Arkansas authorities are investigating the death of a Texas man who disappeared a month ago while riding an Amtrak train from San Antonio to Chicago for his 80th birthday celebration.
Authorities confirmed Tuesday that the body found last weekend along railroad tracks in northeast Arkansas was Andrew Haukereid, who vanished May 19 after he boarded the train in Texas.
Clay County Sheriff Gerald McClung said a medical examiner identified the decomposed body by matching a gold tooth to Haukereid's dental records.
Still, family members and investigators say they're puzzled by the death and aren't sure exactly how — or why — the 79-year-old managed to get off the moving train.
"We don't know how he got there," McClung said.
Haukereid's cause of death is officially undetermined and authorities don't suspect foul play.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Wednesday (http://is.gd/SWLy3T) that Haukereid was last spotted on surveillance cameras at the Little Rock train station. The train also makes stops in Walnut Ridge and Poplar Bluff, Mo., but there are no surveillance cameras at either stop, said Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari.
Haukereid was never recorded in St. Louis or further north in Chicago. That prompted investigators to believe that Haukereid may have fallen out of the train as it passed through Knobel.
"I don't think he got off the train in Walnut Ridge and then walked to Knobel," McClung said. "He's a 79-year-old man. He couldn't have walked that far."
Magliari said a passenger can open a train door while a train is moving, but they'd need to push two latches and pull the door open.
"But if a door was opened while a train was moving, surely someone would hear it," he said.
Family members said Haukereid was headed to Chicago and then to Rockford, Ill., to celebrate his birthday. He would have turned 80 on June 2.
Relatives say they aren't sure if he would have had the strength to open a train door.
"It's been a mystery," said Morris Haukereid, the man's brother. "Every time we come up with a scenario, it just doesn't work."
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