Article 8417 of 25435 articles posted under "Safety First?"


Name: Cindi Sucks Xtralarge Train
Employed as: Corporate office, for 20-30 years
Posted: 06 August 2012

Clay jury awards $1.6 million to family of teen killed by CSX train
Posted: July 26, 2012 - 5:26pm
By Charles Broward

A Clay County jury found CSX Transportation negligent in the May 2008
death of a 17-year-old football star who was hit by a train while
fishing from a trestle, awarding his family about $1.6 million in
damages Tuesday.

Wesley Whiddon and two friends were on the railroad bridge over Black
Creek when the train approached, forcing them to run barefoot to the
end where they could jump off instead of taking a 50-foot plunge into
the water below. Whiddon, positioned farthest from the end of the
150-foot trestle, was hit just as he tried to jump to safe ground.
(Shouldda jumped sooner.)

“While we respectfully disagree with the decision, we very much
appreciate the jury’s hard work on this difficult case,” said CSX
spokesman Gary Sease in a statement to the Times-Union. “Regardless
of fault, the death of Wes Whiddon was a complete tragedy, and we offer
our sincere condolences to his family and friends.”

In their lawsuit, the Whiddon family said the train was speeding and no
attempt was made to slow down, even after the crew saw the boys in their
path trying to run away.

The lawsuit said additional braking equipment at the end of the train
was not operating properly at the time of the accident, which, by
federal law, meant it should not have been traveling faster than 30
mph. However, the train was moving at least 43 mph and the brakes were
not applied until after the teen was struck.

“We think the jury felt that CSX was grossly negligent and committed
misconduct by not doing anything to stop the train from hitting that
boy,” said Gary Easom, attorney for the Whiddons.

He did not disclose how much of the award will be reduced by legal

The bridge, known as “The Trestle” for being a destination for
fishing and diving, was also the site of the death of another teenager
in 1988. However, 16-year-old Richard Zelenka and two of his friends
had been intentionally playing chicken when a train hit him during
early morning hours. Alcohol was also involved.

Whiddon’s death came as a shock to the Clay County community,
particularly at Fleming Island High School where he had been destined
to become the school’s first four-year varsity

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