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Train Crew Was Helpless to Avoid Tragedy in Boy's Death

Medical examiner's report details hopeless moments as freight bore down on 11-year-old Joey Kramer, who was wearing headphones and did not react to approaching engine.

The death of 11-year-old Joey Kramer — less than two weeks short of his 12th birthday, which would have come March 10 — has been ruled an accident.

Joey's last minutes of life are painted dramatically, chillingly and ironically in the Medical Examiner's report of his death, released Tuesday morning.

The report is a picture of a train crew and multiple other witnesses watching helplessly as a young boy entered the 68th Street crossing, "his head down and hood up over his head."

  • Wauwatosa Patch blogger Mike Collins

The massive train was traveling at 35 mph, carrying 4,000 tons of cargo. There would be no question of stopping it — there was hardly time to even begin to slow it down, Canadian Pacific personnel said.

The train operators, an engineer and conductor, blew the train's horn several times but, they told investigators, they never saw Joey look up.

In moments, they were so close they could see that Joey was wearing earbuds under his hood.

Witnesses said that Joey had almost cleared the tracks on the north side of the crossing when he was struck.

The facts of the matter

The details of such investigative reports are meticulous, exacting. Joey's body was thrown 94 feet from the point of impact. His set of earbuds was found 20 feet away. The train was finally brought to a stop a quarter of a mile east of the crossing.

The accident has been reported to have happened at 7:24 a.m. At 7:25, the report notes, 911 was activated. A paramedic unit was on the scene at 7:29 and, "In less than 10 minutes, the decedent was enroute to Children's Hospital," it says.

In the initial 911 call, released Tuesday afternoon by , a man who is clearly upset but maintaining control tells the dispatcher, "We need an amublance at 68th and State immediately, a young kid has just been hit by a train. He's still breathing.

"There's a gash in his head and the train has stopped. North side of the tracks, please!"

"Thank you, sir, we're on our way."

Despite the rapid response, the medical examiner's report notes, once Joey reached the emergency room at Children's, he "was in asystole the entire code" — a state of no cardiac activity. Nevertheless, doctors worked to revive him.

Joey was declared dead at 7:55. "Multiple blunt force injuries" were the offical cause of death.

Family had just moved a block away from crossing

Those are the cold facts of the matter, maybe more than some people wish to know, although there is much more that no one needs to know.

But the report is not asceptic — it also tells us how Joey came to be at that corner, at that time.

The directory, printed last fall, lists Joey's home with his mother, Sara Kramer, in the 2400 block of 64th Street.

But police told medical investigators that Sara Kramer had just about a month earlier moved to a new home just a block south of the railroad crossing. The report notes that Joey's "normal routine is to walk to school in the morning."

Sara Kramer told investigators that Joey had no health problems except asthma. But to be certain, his family physician was contacted, too. Joey, he said, had no hearing or vision problems.

She told a WISN TV reporter that she wasn't ready to speak publicly about the accident, but thanked people for their kind wishes via Facebook.

There was apparently nothing about Joey that would have prevented him from hearing or seeing an approaching train, except a hood, a pair of earbuds and intense love of music.

, while the train operators have been temporarily relieved of their duties and also provided "critical incident services," according to a Canadian Pacific spokesman.

Crossing bars covering sidewalks are an option for that rail crossing, say rail officials, according to a report from WISN TV.

KAY KRISTIN February 29, 2012 at 10:38 PM
I'm not throwing blame on the kid...(and if you're referring to my comment of 4:29 this afternoon, I wasn't even referring to this latest accident). All I'm doing is telling BP that it's not the railroad's fault. It's a horrible, horrible accident, but the railroad is not to blame.
KAY KRISTIN March 01, 2012 at 01:36 AM
And here again...the person was WALKING ON THE TRACKS and had headphones on. This is the railroad's fault why?
JustMe March 02, 2012 at 02:32 AM
I agree. Maybe other kids will learn from this. Put down the ipods and cell phones and pay attention!
Randy1949 March 02, 2012 at 03:51 PM
I sometimes make the walk from my mother's apartment at Hart Park Square up to my son's house on Lloyd St., and so I've used that crossing quite a few times. Not enough to get comfortable with it, though. I was shocked and saddened to read about the fatal accident there. At first, there was a lot of speculation about how and why a kid could miss hearing and seeing the train coming, but headphones and a hood pulled up against the cold explains it. This was a tragic accident all around -- for the young boy and for those left behind. They are all in my thoughts. If anything can come out of it, perhaps we ought to rethink the practice of walking with headphones in heavy traffic situations.
DK123 March 02, 2012 at 10:06 PM
Please everyone - stop trying to find someone or something to blame. As a family member of Joey we have more information than most people on what happened and there is nothing that could have been done. Everyone with a caring heart has been deeply traumatized by this senseless accident, as witnessed at the outpouring of love and attendance at Joey's funeral service last night. Blaming is a defense mechanism....we just need to find a way to get past this all together. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. Please read this additional article that states how the brain processes (or doesn't process) multiple stimuli. Copy and paste the link below or go to the Wauwatosa Patch and search earphone-accidents. http://wauwatosa.patch.com/articles/earphone-accidents-becoming-a-national-focus-f2a2ea8d Please everyone - hug those you love and watch out for others! Stay safe....

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