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BODY IDENTIFIED AS HIGH SCHOOL SOPHOMORE
Pearsall High School sophomore Jose Mario Rodriguez lost his life Sunday, April 30, when he was struck by a Union Pacific freight train.
Frio County deputies have reported that emergency dispatchers received a call at 1:42 p.m. Sunday regarding a male pedestrian having been hit by the train a short distance north of the downtown area. The report indicates the 16-year-old had been walking along the railroad line when a southbound freight train struck him near the Athol Lane crossing.
Emergency responders examining the accident scene recovered a cellphone that was used to identify Rodriguez’ body.
According to social media posts by family and friends, Rodriguez was a cheerful teenager who enjoyed hanging out with his friends and was an avid baseball player. He had been named student of the week two weeks earlier.
Pearsall ISD Superintendent Dr. Nobert Rodriguez issued a statement on Monday, May 1, announcing Rodriguez’ death and assuring parents that the district has counselors available for students.
“Students may experience varied reactions to the death of a peer,” the superintendent wrote. “Any reaction is normal as part of the grievance process and can range from withdrawal to crying and anger. I encourage parents and guardians to openly discuss with their sons or daughters their emotions regarding this incident and encourage them to seek support.”
The high school hosted a vigil for the teen on Tuesday evening.
“Over my twenty-plus years of working in this community we have seen far too many tragedies of this kind and especially in this specific area,” Chief Deputy Peter Salinas said. “So much promise gone too soon. From youth to adults, the danger is always real. Please speak with your loved ones and explain that walking on or near the train tracks is never safe at any time.”
According to Stay Off the Tracks, a national train safety awareness program, 2,000 train and motor vehicle accidents occur each year at grade crossings due to impatience or poor judgement. In 2022, 1,076 people were killed or injured walking on the train tracks; it is also considered trespassing.
The stretch of rails that runs through downtown Pearsall has claimed numerous lives. Five people have died on or beside the tracks between the Arnold and Trinity Street crossings in the past ten years.