More tragedy on the tracks in New Jersey

October 4, 2011 2:56:27 PM PDT
A 7th-grade student from Garfield Middle School was struck and killed by a train he didn't know was coming.

Grief counselors will be on hand at school in Garfield Tuesday after a 7th-grade student was killed by a New Jersey Transit train Monday. Less than 24 hours earlier, two other teens were killed by a train in Wayne.

Garfield superintendent Nicholas Perrapato said the 13-year-old victim, who was identified as Michael Cabaj, was heading home from cross-country practice just before the 4:51 p.m. incident at the Outwater Lane Crossing, near the Plauderville station.

A teenage witness waiting to cross the tracks saw Cabaj standing on the sidewalk. The witness says he watched as Cabaj waited for a westbound train to pass, then went underneath the crossing gate riding his kick scooter, not realizing an eastbound train was coming from the other direction.

The witness says Michael froze for just a second, not sure what to do. Then he was hit and killed.

The accident shut down NJ Transit's Bergen Line for several hours between Glen Rock and Rutherford as police investigated the accident.

Authorities say that not long before the accident, Cabaj was offered a ride home, which he declined.

An NJ Transit spokeswoman confirmed that Monday's accident was not the first fatality at the Outwater Lane crossing. And Michael's death was not the first of the week.

On Sunday, two other teens were struck and killed by an NJ Transit train as they crossed a trestle in Wayne.

Police say those victims were killed while on the bridge that travels over Route 46 at around 9:45 p.m. They were pronounced dead at the scene.

They were identified as 16-year-old Alan Mendez, a Wayne Valley High School student, and 17-year-old Nicholas Sabina, of Fairfield.

A third teen, a 15-year-old from Little Falls, was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital with non life-threatening injuries sustained in the incident.