Man killed by train in Esopus; brother injured

Tragedy struck in Esopus this afternoon when 22-year-old Thomas Heil was struck and killed by a CSX train. His brother, 20-year-old Christopher Heil, was also on the tracks, and sustained a shoulder injury.

The press release from the Ulster County Sheriff's Department:

Detectives from the Ulster County Sheriff's Office report the death of an Esopus man following an accident whereby he was struck by a locomotive. At approximately 3:30 this afternoon, deputies responded to the area about one half mile south of the rail crossing at Floyd Ackert Road in West Park. Deputies discovered Thomas H. Heil, 22, of Esopus and his brother, Christopher Heil, 20, also of Esopus, on the western edge of the rail line. Both were transported to Saint Francis Hospital, where Christopher was treated for a shoulder injury and Thomas was pronounced dead on arrival.

Investigation at the scene yielded indications that the locomotive had sounded its warning horn for approximately three tenths of a mile along a straight section of track prior to striking Thomas Heil. Witness accounts indicate both subjects were aware of the presence of the locomotive but failed to clear the train's path. Additional investigation is continuing.

Deputies were assisted on scene by the New York State Police at Highland, Esopus Fire, Esopus Ambulance, Mobile Life Support Services, and CSX investigators.

Hardly a year goes by without a fatality on the local CSX tracks. Last July, a man was struck and killed by a CSX train in Kingston. In July of 2009, CSX trains struck and killed two people in the local area; one in Kingston, the other in Ulster. And in December of 2008, a 19-year-old Ulster resident was struck and killed by a CSX train.

In 2007, an explosion at a CSX railyard in upstate New York caused the evacuation of 50 homes and aroused the wrath of US Senator Chuck Schumer; mercifully, no one was killed.