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Ryan Francis, 19 -- Hit By Train

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A Lemont teen in his sophomore year at Western Illinois University died early Monday after being struck by a freight train just blocks from campus.

Ryan P. Francis, 19, was hit by a northbound train about 10:30 p.m. Sunday as he cut across the tracks that run diagonally through Macomb, McDonough County Coroner Larry Jameson said.

Village Administrator Michael Hays said it was the third railroad death in the past three years in Macomb, a town of about 19,000 roughly 250 miles southwest of Chicago. Last summer, the town closed three of its 11 railroad crossings and conducted an education campaign.

"We've probably done more than most communities with educating people about railroad crossings," Hays said. "But still we have unfortunate incidents like this."

Francis, a 2004 Lemont High School graduate, had been watching movies at a friend's Calhoun Street apartment a few blocks north of the tracks, Jameson said.
He said Francis was hit as he crossed the Burlington Northern/Santa Fe tracks just west of the Johnson Street crossing.

The crew of a second freight train reported seeing what appeared to be a body along the tracks, a third train soon slowed to investigate and the crew found Francis' body about 1:25 a.m., the coroner said.

Jameson said Francis' death did not appear to be a suicide.

Francis, a law enforcement and justice administration major, lived on campus, Western Illinois University spokeswoman Darcie Shinberger said.

In high school, Francis participated in sports — wrestling on the varsity team as a freshman and playing freshman and sophomore football, a Lemont High athletic department official said.



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