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Local

Police chief: Teen was 'breezing' before he was struck by a train

Parker Wolfsmith
Parker Wolfsmith

MAPLE PARK – After viewing a video provided by Union Pacific Railroad, Maple Park Police Chief Mike Acosta said it's likely a 14-year-old boy was engaging in an activity called "breezing" when the teen was fatally struck by a train last month in Maple Park.

Parker Wolfsmith, an eighth-grader at Kaneland Harter Middle School, died May 31. He was struck at about 9:30 p.m. that night at the North Liberty Street railroad crossing in Maple park. Acosta said he viewed the video at 10:45 a.m. Wednesday, along with representatives from Union Pacific and the Kane County Coroner's Office. Acosta said he learned of the term "breezing" from the Union Pacific representative.

"Breezing is what it's called," Acosta said, adding that those who engage in the activity will "get close to the train to feel the breeze. … It's unfortunately something that kids do."

Previously, Union Pacific spokesman Mark Davis said that trains are equipped with video cameras and that the company at times allows those conducting investigations to view such videos. Acosta said the video shows Wolfsmith approaching the train from the side yard of a house next to the railroad tracks. Acosta said Wolfsmith first is seen about 30 yards away from the train.

"He moves toward the train as it gets closer to the crossing," Acosta said. "He stops for a second and moves forward again. You do not see him get struck, but he evidently did. The camera does not show any of the other kids around the camera view, so he was by himself. He wasn't pushed, wasn't coerced. He went on his own accord."

As for a theory that Wolfsmith might have been taking a "selfie" with a cellphone near the train, Acosta said the video doesn't show that.

"You can't see anything in his hands," Acosta said. "We did find his [cellphone] camera probably 20 feet from his body, but that could have come out of his pocket. … It just shows he gets close, stops for a second and leans toward the train. That's all you see."

Acosta said his investigation suggests that Wolfsmith engaged in the activity before, saying "it's not the first time he got close to the train." He said he understands that Wolfsmith used to talk about it with classmates during school bus rides.

Wolfsmith was hit by the front of the train, Acosta said. Acosta said he is still awaiting toxicology reports.

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