Light-rail train hits man, 36 Man is in serious condition following Balto. Co. accident.

May 29, 1992|By Richard Irwin and David Michael Ettlin | Richard Irwin and David Michael Ettlin,Staff Writers

A Baltimore County man remained in serious condition today after being the first pedestrian hit on the Mass Transit Administration's Central Light Rail line.

The man apparently had stood on the tracks and turned his back to an oncoming train when he was hit last night in Lutherville.

Baltimore County police said the victim's family reported he had been depressed and talked of taking his own life.

MTA Police Chief Larry M. Engleman said John J. Szymanski, 36, of the 8200 block of Jeffers Circle in Ridervale, a small community across the Beltway and south of Lutherville, stepped out of a wooded area on the east side of the rail line south of Seminary Avenue about 9:30 p.m. The man appeared to make no effort to get out of the northbound train's path before it struck and threw him to the side of the tracks, Chief Engleman said.

At the time of impact, Chief Engleman said, the train was traveling about 45 mph, the speed limit for the light-rail system.

The train's operator saw Mr. Szymanski, but was unable to stop until after the impact. The operator immediately called his dispatcher for help, Chief Engleman said.

After a chain-link fence that borders the railroad was cut by county firefighters, paramedics carried the victim on a stretcher across the southbound tracks, down an embankment, and across a parking lot and road to a Seminary Park athletic field.

There, the injured man was placed aboard a State Police Medevac helicopter that flew him to the Maryland Shock-Trauma Center.

Early today, Mr. Szymanski had been listed in critical condition with three broken ribs and injuries to his head, legs and back but he stabilized and his condition was upgraded to serious at mid-day, a spokesman for Shock-Trauma said.

Neither of the two passengers riding on the late northbound train saw the man or the impact, the chief said.

Chief Engleman said the train would be tested to assure that it functioned properly when the operator applied the brakes. He said the operator would, as a matter of routine, undergo drug and alcohol testing.

Since the light-rail line began carrying passengers to baseball games with the opening of Oriole Park at Camden Yards April 3, and began daily scheduled operation May 17, there have been two minor bumps in downtown Baltimore between trains and cars but no other injuries, an MTA spokeswoman said early today.

After last night's accident, the two passengers were taken home by the police. Passengers on other trains were taken by bus from the Falls Road station.

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