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updated: 6/2/2014 1:50 PM

Kaneland middle schooler dies after being hit by freight train

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Kaneland Harter Middle School eighth-grader Parker Wolfsmith died Saturday night after being hit by a freight train in Maple Park.

Maple Park Police Chief Mike Acosta said he believes the death was accidental. The train's crew told Union Pacific Railroad police Parker, 14, was alongside the tracks a few feet east of the Liberty Street crossing, according to Mark Davis. The westbound freight train had three locomotives and was pulling 135 empty coal cars, on its way from Joliet to Wyoming. He didn't know how fast the train was moving. A federal railroad crossing inventory entry indicates that more than 70 trains pass through the intersection daily, at speeds ranging from 30 to 70 mph.

Acosta said it may take up to a week for him to receive a video of the accident recorded by a camera mounted on the train. Several youths also witnessed the accident, he said, and will be interviewed.

The crossing has gates.

The school had additional counselors and other workers on hand Monday to help students and staff members as they grieve.

It also suggested parents learn about teens and grieving by calling Elburn-based Conley Outreach Grief Care at (630) 265-2880, or visit

Parker, who lived in an unincorporated area south of Maple Park, had attended Harter for one year.

"He was a well-liked kid at his school," Acosta said.

Funeral arrangements will be posted, when available, on the district's website,

Harter eighth-graders are scheduled to have a promotion ceremony and dance Tuesday.

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