Another death along tracks in Abington

An Abington teen was killed Friday night when she was struck by a commuter rail train while walking along the tracks near the Birch Street grade crossing.

It marks yet another serious accident  along what is one of the most dangerous stretches of tracks in the region. The tallysheet of tragedies include multiple fatalities and close calls since Old Colony Line rail service resumed back in 1997.

Transit police received a report at 11:33 p.m. Friday night that a person who had been walking along the tracks had been hit by a commuter rail train, according to Transit Police Superintendent Richard Sullivan. Transit police, along with Abington police and fire, responded to the scene, which is near the Birch Street grade crossing and found a female with fatal injuries.

The person was later identified as Katelyn McCarthy, a senior at Abington High School. 

“Transit Police and representatives of the Plymouth County District Attorney’s Office are investigating the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident,” Sullivan said in a statement. “Foul play is not suspected.”

In an email to the Abington school community, Superintendent Peter Schafer  said a crisis intervention team and counselors would be available for students this weekend from Noon to 3 p.m. Counselors will also be available when students return to school on Monday and throughout the coming days and weeks, he said. 

Town Manager Scott Lambiase said the accident is still under investigation and that he wasnt able to discuss the details.

“Our hearts, thoughts, and prayers go out to the family,” he said. 

The stretch of tracks in Abington from Pine Street to Birch Street has been the site of more than a dozen major collisions since service resumed in 1997. It is believed that Abington has the largest number of MBTA grade crossings of any Old Colony Line town. That includes five grade crossings along that mile-long stretch in North Abington, where trains are allowed to roll at speeds in excess of 70 miles per hour.

The tragedies date back to 1998, when a 15-year-old girl was killed after she rode her bicycle around a gate at the Pine Street crossing. There were also fatal crashes involving drivers in 2005 and 2017, and non-fatal crashes in 2008, 2018, and 2020.

According to one newspaper article, there were seven train crashes in Abington between 2001 and 2008.

During most of the collisions, the safety measures in place – such as crossing gates, signal bells, or train horns – were working properly.

A number of the incidents involved drivers manueving around gates while they were down, or driving on to the tracks.

In the 1998 collision, the train engineer was disciplined for speeding and failing to sound his horn appropriately.

Abington officials have tried at different times to spur the MBTA to review and enhance safety through the corridor, but the efforts have not been fruitful.

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