Police say a freight train struck two young siblings walking along railroad tracks in northwestern Indiana, killing one and critically injuring the other.

The (Northwest Indiana) Times reports 3-year-old Caleb Wilson was pronounced dead at the scene of the collision Tuesday morning and 2-year-old Ellie Wilson was airlifted to a hospital.

The girl “had noticeable injuries but was actively crying,” Portage Police Chief Troy Williams told the Chicago Tribune.

Williams said family members believed the two sneaked away from their home in a mobile home park adjacent to the tracks. He says adults were actively searching for them when the collision occurred.

The siblings’ step-grandmother, Denise Benson, said, “Caleb is a train person. Caleb loves trains and, of course, little Ellie follows Caleb everywhere.”

CSX train personnel told investigators they saw the children, honked and tried to stop but could not before striking them.

Robert Gowens said he was nearby having a cigarette when he witnessed the incident.

“I was standing out there this morning, and I heard the train blow its horn. The conductor was waving his arms,” said Gowens, adding he didn’t see the children because of some high weeds. “It just makes you want to hold your kids tighter.”

The children’s grandfather, Byron Benson, told WGN that the kids’ mother is a good mother and “has been from day one.”

“It’s dumbfounding to me how they even got out. With three grown adults, not on drugs, not drinking state of mind,” Byron Benson said.

Byron Benson believes the children were able to crawl through a hole in the screen door of their home, despite the hole being loosely covered by a gate.

“By the time the mom went to check the laundry, she came back and said, ‘dad, the kids are gone.’ I got on my shoes. I went one way, my brother went the other way, she went another way,” Byron Benson said.

Family members are now at Comer Children’s Hospital, waiting at the bedside of 2-year-old Ellie, and praying she pulls through.


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