AVON PARK - Often times, local employee Anibal Kuilan would see teenagers during the late afternoon trying to beat trains as they passed at a slower speed through the city while walking home from school, Kuilan said Wednesday.
Kuilan, an employee of Santana Upholstery, said he warned the teenagers about the dangers.
"They just looked at me like I was crazy," he said.
On Tuesday afternoon around 3:15 p.m. those dangers came home to roost. The Highlands County Sheriff's Office said that Ralph Davis Jr., 14, tried to outrun the train. But, as he ran across the tracks in front of the northbound Amtrak train, he stumbled and the train hit his leg, Nell Hays, public information officer for the Highlands County Sheriff's Office, said in a press release.
Davis was reported to be in stable condition at Tampa General Hospital, where he was transported after the accident.
Kimberly Woods, who is with Amtrak Media Relations, said in an e-mail that Amtrak Train 92 was carrying 182 passengers at the time of the accident. No injuries to passengers or crew were reported, she said.
She said the train, the Silver Spur, travels daily from New York City to Miami and back.
Jim Deal, a board member for the Avon Park Depot Museum, said he was at the nearby thrift store when he heard a woman screaming Tuesday afternoon. He said he went outside and saw the teenager hit by the train lying about 6 to 8 feet from the train,
It was obvious from the teenager's leg injuries that he couldn't have moved that distance by himself, Deal said.
"I'm sure it (the train) pushed him out of the way," he said.
Deal said that two trains travel north and two trains travel south each day.
City Councilman Garrett Anderson, who owns a factory near the tracks, said he didn't see the accident, but saw the train stopped. At the time, the train, while stopped, crossed onto the north side of Main Street.
"That's a shame," he said of the accident.
Although he didn't know about teenagers racing, Anderson said, he has seen children crossing the tracks.
Kuilan said he hoped that the teenager he knows the best wasn't the one who got injured. He said four to six teenagers would regularly try to outrun the train. They would do it when they heard the train beep its horn, he said.
"I told them one day you're going to get hit," he said.
Joyce Swant, who works at the nearby Main Street Tap Room, said if she had a son who was doing that she would discipline him.
"Their (the ones who were trying to beat the train) parents need to be notified," she said.