Montebello teens, man killed by passenger train in Commerce

COMMERCE — Authorities continued their investigation Wednesday into the deaths of two boys and a young man from Montebello — including two local high school students — who were fatally struck by a commuter train earlier this week.
Anthony Sandoval, 15, Gilbert Correa, 17, and Joseph Hernandez, 25, were pronounced dead at the scene of the accident, Lt. Mike Rosson of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
They were walking northbound on a set of train tracks near Garfield Avenue and Telegraph Road about 8:37 p.m. Monday when they were struck from behind by a a northbound Amtrak commuter train, according to sheriff’s officials.
At the time they were struck, a southbound freight train was passing alongside them on a parallel set of tracks, Rosson said.
“That they didn’t hear or see it because of the other train, that’s something that’s being looked into,” he said.
Detectives initially suspected the two young boys and may have been on the tracks to write graffiti.
One of the victims was found with graffiti implements and was wearing a latex glove — often used by graffiti vandals to keep paint from getting on their hands, the lieutenant said.
“We believe they were there for the purpose of tagging,’ he said.
Family members of the victims could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Sandoval was a freshman at Montebello High School and Correa was a senior at Vail High School, Montebello Unified School District Interim Assistant Superintendent of Pupil and Community Services Michael Cobarrubias said.
Both were well-liked by both fellow students and staff, he added. Sandoval has been attending school in the district since kindergarten, and Correa had been in the district since first grade.
Counselors were on-hand Wednesday at both high schools.
“As a result of the tragedy, we activated our ‘crisis intervention team,’ which consists of school psychologists, school counselors and other support staff to provide support to students who have been impacted, the staff who’ve been impacted and the families,” Cobarrubias said.
“Our biggest concern right now is to offer support.” he added.
Trains in the section of track involved generally travel at 40-45 mph when passing each other, Rosson said. Other times, the trains are permitted to travel at nearly 80 mph.
The exact speed of the train at the time of impact was not available, Rosson said, as detectives had yet to download the information from a data storage device on the train.
There were no initial signs that the teens and man were intoxicated at the time of the accident, authorities said, though it was expected to be several weeks before coroner’s officials completed toxicology tests.
Official causes of death for the young men had not been determined Wednesday afternoon, coroner’s officials said.
The more than 120 passengers waited on the Los Angeles-bound train for about five hours as officials gathered evidence and investigated the scene, officials said.

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