A 17-year-old Statham youth was killed Saturday morning when he was hit by an oncoming CSX train just outside the city limits. But exactly what happened isn’t yet clear.
A report from the Barrow County Sheriff’s Office said Joshua Whiten may have been walking on the tracks at the time of the incident while listening to music. “The train’s operator saw the victim walking within the tracks and immediately sounded the warning systems as well as began to brake,” a report from the BCSO stated. “Tragically, Whiten never moved from the path of the train and was struck. At this time, there is no evidence to suggest negligence on behalf of the train operators.
“The Barrow County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the incident. The investigation has revealed that the victim may have been listening to a digital music device before the collision. The Sheriff’s Office is investigating all possible scenarios, in attempts to uncover the facts of the case.”
Statham Police Chief Roger Tripp said the engineer was traumatized by the incident, as were his officers.
“Everybody’s upset,” said the Statham chief. “He was a real local around here. He was a troubled child, but a lot of people knew who he was.”
Also affected by Joshua’s death are the staff at the Statham Public Library, where he was a frequent and well-liked patron, according to library manager Mary Spencer.
“He was always helpful,” she said. “If another patron needed help on a computer and we didn’t have time to help the person, he would step in and help them.
“He’d bring me soft drinks every so often.”
She said Joshua came to the library several times a week, sometimes arriving before the library opened, and used the computer and also checked out books.
His last visit to the library was Thursday.
“He was here for a good many hours on Thursday,” Spencer said.