A young view on the hazards of walking on train tracks

When a young person loses their life, it’s always tragic. But somehow it seems worse when their death could have been prevented.

Every year, more than 2,100 people are killed in railway trespassing and crossing incidents in North America. Many of those fatalities are young people who make the mistake of walking on train tracks—young people like Kevin Kenyon.

In May 2015, the 25-year-old was hit and killed by a train as he took a shortcut to work. He couldn’t hear the train approaching over the sound of his headphones. The crew saw Kenyon on the tracks, but couldn't stop the train in time.

Since Kevin’s death, his mother, Nancy, and 12-year-old sister, Kiki, have both spoken publicly about his death to help others understand the dangers of walking along train tracks.

Their story is featured in one of seven videos that are part of Operation Lifesaver’s #STOPTrackTragedies campaign. Each video tells the personal account of someone affected by a rail incident, and is a harsh reminder of the ripple effect that each incident has.

In the video, Kiki talks about her brother’s death and her family’s struggle to come to terms with it. Here’s some of her conversation with Operation Lifesaver.

How would you describe your brother Kevin?

He was a very caring person and he always tried his best. He didn’t always succeed, but that never got him down. He was always very laid back and relaxed. He was just a great person. There were a lot of little things he did, mainly for my mom, like bringing her things. He just kind of loved everyone.

He and I were very close. He always made time to play games with me. When I was very little, he would watch Barbie movies with me. He would pretend to read a book, but I know he always loved watching those with me.

You were only nine when he died. How clearly do you remember the day of his accident?

Quite clearly. It was my other brother Ricky’s birthday party. I remember how everyone got there, and my brother Ricki invited one of my friends. I had a bunny and we were playing with her in the backyard. My other brother David came along the side of the house and I could tell he was crying. I said, “David what’s wrong?” He kept walking and I said, “David, you need to tell me what’s going on.” And he told me that Kevin was dead, and then he just came up to hug me. After that I only remember bits and pieces, like my siblings’ facial expressions…

Before his accident, did you give much thought to train tracks?

No, not really. If we were out shopping or something, I would watch the train going by because I always thought it was so cool. And I thought crossing the tracks was so much fun. And when the train was coming, I would be laughing and playing around. Now train tracks are kind of just a reminder that Kevin used to be here.

How has his death affected you and your family?

It’s really hard to say, but it has affected the way we do things. Christmas and holidays are a lot different, and Christmas was especially different the first year. They don’t feel real anymore. Kevin’s birthday is always just a reminder that he’s gone. Even my sleep cycle is all thrown off because I think about him when I’m going to bed. Little things like that. There are different things that have affected me. It’s hard to say.

It is hardest for my mom. It’s hard to watch her handle it, because sometimes she just can’t and that’s understandable. We were watching a show once, and someone got hit by a train, and she had to go into the bathroom and cry. It is very hard to hold it together when I see or hear the train. That’s really hard.

You’ve spoken publicly about his accident. Why have you chosen to do that?

Well, I think the best way I can get through this is by talking about him. That’s one of the things that helps me. I have gone to therapy—I’m actually in therapy now. I do find that helps, because I get to talk about him and not feel I’m burdening or boring someone.

Also, I don’t want any other family to have to go through this and have to plan a family member’s funeral together. It’s been helpful for me to get through Kevin’s passing away by making sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.