By Julie Montanaro
January 4, 7:05pm
A man trying to save his dog from an oncoming train loses his own life.
It happened on a train trestle on the back side of Tallahassee's Tom Brown Park and his girlfriend witnessed the whole thing.
35 Year Old Curtis Hamilton and his girlfriend were walking along this train track with their two dogs ... Moose and Drake ... when they heard the train coming their way.
"The girlfriend went one way, the boyfriend went the other way, the dog was just kind of looking between the victim and the girlfriend and didn't know what to do," said Tallahassee Police Spokesman John Newland. "The dog ultimately went with the girlfriend and the victim thought he could make it across the bridge, started running, got across the bridge and was actually going down the embankment when the train struck him in the back."
Hamilton was pronounced dead on scene. His girlfriend and both dogs survived.
Those who bring their four legged friends to Tom Brown Park to run and play say Hamilton probably followed his gut in those scary seconds ...trying to make sure his best friends were safe.
"You just think, that's my buddy right there, so your natural reaction is just to do whatever it takes to preserve his health," said Jeff Prashaw who was walking his dog nearby. "Based on what happened this morning, that's very unfortunate because he was trying to do the right thing."
A spokeswoman for CSX Railroad said the train had just left the yard in Tallahassee bound for Lee, Florida. The posted speed on this stretch of track is 60 miles per hour. She says investigators will analyze the train's black box to learn more about its actual speed and braking distance. The train was not visible from the scene.
For now Curtis Hamilton's family is left to make sense of his sudden death in the midst of what was supposed to be a peaceful morning walk in the park.
We spoke with Hamilton's aunt late Thursday afternoon. She says Curtis had cleared the trestle and the tracks, but apparently had not stepped far enough away from the tracks to avoid being hit by the width of the locomotive.