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Train kills man running across track

He was apparently chasing someone when the Amtrak passenger train hit him, investigators say.

By CHASE SQUIRES

© St. Petersburg Times, published July 29, 2000


LACOOCHEE -- A 40-year-old man died late Thursday when he ran in front of an Amtrak passenger train, which hit him and knocked his body 120 feet from the point of impact, according to the Pasco County Sheriff's Office.

Investigators said Robert Earl Walker of Stewart Road was apparently chasing someone across the tracks on Cummer Road about 11:45 p.m. when he was struck by the 10-car northbound train traveling at 59 mph.

Engineer Billy Chambers, 44, of Jacksonville told authorities he saw Walker running behind another man across the tracks, carrying something shiny in one hand. He said he could not tell whether Walker was chasing the other man or merely running behind him.

Investigators said Chambers told them that he tried to stop the train but heard Walker's body strike the front of it. According to the Sheriff's Office, Walker had been at the Mosstown grocery store before the accident and may have been in a scuffle with another man when the two began running. As Walker ran after the other man, he was about 4 or 5 feet behind him.

Both men ran around lowered crossing gates, authorities said. The second man, who was not identified, made it across the tracks. On Friday, Walker's friends recalled a happy-go-lucky man who liked fishing and joking around. He moved here from Alabama to be near family, they said.

Walker, who was not married, loved his two daughters, Jasmine Nelson, 5, and Alexandra Haley, 11, one friend said.

"He will be missed by his two little girls. It hasn't even hit them yet, what happened," Angelic Clark said Friday. "He'll never be forgotten."

Clark said Walker alternated last names, sometimes using Walker and other times using Nelson.

Cousin Delores Marshall said she had heard that three young men had been harassing Walker earlier, and she said he would have stood up to them. That may have been part of what led to his chasing a man across railroad tracks, she said.

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